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Layla's Tale


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I started this story a long time ago after the first time I played IWD2 and i just decided to post it. I was inspired by the game and Domi's IWD2 NPC Project and it sort of spiraled into something different. Anyway tell me what you think. This story is about a Drow rogue from Silverymoon named Laelafay or Layla for short who is sent off to the dales by her father to learn responsibility and learns that and a whole lot more.


Layla’s Tale


My name is Layla and this is my story

Chapter 1

“But mother do I have to?†I complained as mother told me I would be going on a quest to help the dales. “Yes, you have to your last little stunt really put your father in an awkward place.†I crossed my arms and said “Good, maybe that’ll keep him for trying to set me up with the squires of his order or other noble men darthiers or humans every one of them all stuck up or just plain money grabbers. Not one of them was really interested in me they wanted the honor of courting the eldest daughter of Sir Kalandan or what money would come with my dowry.†Mother shook her head and said “You can’t be sure of that this last one seemed to be quite a nice boy.†I snorted and said “if he was so nice then why while you all were gone looking for me did I over hear him saying to himself “this girl better not be as much trouble as I'm told or I’ll being too busy breaking her to do anything else.†Mother sighed and said “and you thought it would be funny to break him†I nodded and said “I did find it quite ironic in fact. Besides he can just go to the temple to get his arm mended.†“That’s not the point Layla.†I rolled my eyes and said “Whatever.†Mother then said “That attitude is exactly why you’re in this predicament!†“Iymthraedia! Iymthraedia! Where are you? Is Layla ready yet Leohorn is here!†“We’re in here dear.†Mother said Kalandan then came in the room and I turned away grumbling while my parents talked. I looked up into the mirror in front of me and noticed a smudge on my cheek. After wiping it away I looked at my appearance as a whole I was entirely ordinary about five feet tall, thin and lithe like all elves, with obsidian colored skin and long white hair. My eyes were the only unique thing about me as they were a deep shade of purple instead of the usual red, well green here on the surface. I frowned wishing it wasn’t so when my father than pulled me from my ruminations saying “Are you ready to go Layla?†I sighed and said “I suppose.†I then grabbed my pack and followed father to the parlor. Father then introduced mother and I. He said “Leohorn you remember my wife Iymthraedia?†Leohorn bowed and said “milady†father than gestured to me and said “and this is my daughter Layla she’s the one who will be going with you to Caer-Divinal†Leohorn bowed and said “nice to meet you lady†I reluctantly curtsied and said “nice to meet you too milord†Leohorn then gestured to his squire and said “This is Maronna Tigersoul my squire.†I nodded not exactly proper but I didn’t really care.

I said goodbye to my parents then told them to say goodbye to my sisters Phyrwae & Alyna, and my brother Elkantar. I was then out the door. Leohorn said “before we leave we need to put together a team. I believe Kalandan said you were a rogue of some sort right?†I nodded Leohorn nodded as well saying “alright then well just need to find us a healer and a mage we also are to stop to pick up a convict to bring to Caer-Divinal with us.†I nodded again finding it odd we had to do such a thing. We made our way to the docks and there we found a gnome mage named Darthana who was incredibly perky and annoying but we didn’t have time to look for a different mage so I sighed thinking “She’ll have to do.†We also met a human priestess of Lathander called Wandathana to go along with us. We then all made our way to the temple to pick up the prisoner. Darthana babbled incessantly Wandathana was the only one who really listened and responded I was already regretting that we just hadn’t waited for my brother to get back so he could be our mage.

When we arrived at the temple Leohorn led us straight inside were two priests standing next to a drow man in chains. I stopped and stared for a moment. After all he was the first fellow drow I had seen outside my family and he was also well so handsome I couldn’t help myself. He was tall for a drow for an elf in general he had to be somewhere around (six feet/a little over five and half feet) tall he had long silver hair and piercing blue eyes in fact the only ordinary thing about him was the obsidian color of his skin. All theses abnormalities didn’t detract from his comeliness though if anything it added to it. I smiled and once I had regained my composure I walked up to the priests and they smiled and one said “ah you must be the one here to escort the prisoner. If you’ll come with me.†the priests then shuffled off and I followed glancing back at the “prisonerâ€. When we were in the next room they turned to me and said “You know why you are here do you not?†It was a rhetorical question so I didn’t answer. The priest then went on “you’re here to escort the man out there to Caer-Divinal you will be paid to do so. His name is Izzdarrak we felt it would be best for you to escort him for you are also a drow and may be able to better connect with him. He is accused of murder though by his account it was self-defense and we believe him. We hope you can help him.†I then followed the priest back to where Izzdarrak stood. The priest introduced us “Izzdarrak this is lady Layla she’s come to escort you to Caer-Divinal†his eyes flicked towards me but said nothing.

When we were back on the boat I removed the chains the soldiers had left on him he looked at me suspiciously and I said “I thought you’d be more comfortable with the chains off.†He said nothing still giving me that suspicious look. I then left him in peace figuring he’d talk to me if he wanted to. The journey was indeed a long one and he came around eventually telling me his tale of how he had come to the surface. How a failed raid on the surface and the betrayal of an ally left him wounded and alone on the surface and had made his way to Silverymoon for he had heard it wasn’t as hostile to drow as most cities on the surface were. “If that was less hostile I’d hate to see what the other surfacer cities are like.†He had snorted. But the very first thing he said to me was “What kind of name is Layla for a drow female anyway?†at first I just blinked at him a bit startled that he was talking to me after being so quite. “Well†I answered “Layla is not my real name it’s just sort of a nickname that me and my sister came up with so the humans in Silverymoon would feel more comfortable. Also it’s easier for them to pronounce.†“I see†he said “So what is your name?†“Laelafay daughter of Sir Kalandan and Lady Iymthraedia of house Hlatlar at your service†I said a bit sarcastically. He smirked and said “Ah it suits you much better Mistress†He then asked how I had come to be on the surface and I told him I was born here and hailed from Silverymoon. He was surprised he didn’t think other drow lived on the surface except a few crazed believers of Eilistraee. I smiled and told him that was exactly what my parents were a paladin and priestess of Lady Sliver Hair. He snorted and said “Figures, and what of you I notice you’re not in full plate mail so you must have taken a different path.†“That I did. No, I'm a rogue or thief if you prefer. I guess I still follow Eilistraee in my own way though I seek to help our fallen brethren, help them find a better way to lead their lives then the way they are led down in the Underdark but I'm not as devout as my parents are none of us are me and my siblings that is expect my sister Phyrwae maybe. My father goes on and on about the greater glory of Eilistraee while mother and Phyrwae sit there listing devoutly and I roll my eyes thinking “Oh please. Could you be anymore pretentious?†I'm sorry I seem to be talking your ear off don’t I?†Izzdarrak shook his head and said “Not a problem I'm used to listening not talking.†I gave him a bit of a sad smile and said “Of course, but I'm still sorry.†He gave me a strange look and said “You’re a very odd female mistress. Excuse me I need to think.†I smiled after him and said “Of course you’re free to do as you wish.†He looked back giving me another strange look but said nothing. I sighed I was getting a bit of a soft spot for Izzdarrak but from what my parents had told of how things work in the Underdark it was going to be very hard to get him out of him current state and be able to actually trust and befriend me not just serve me. I saw Izzdarrak look my way with almost a look of concern for my sudden bout of melancholy but the moment he noticed I was looking he looked away quickly. Wandathana came over and said “Are you alright Layla?†I shrugged and said “I suppose so. It’s just oh I don’t know never mind.â€

I didn’t really talk to anyone else for a while I was distracted with thoughts of Izzdarrak and the tales of the Underdark my parents had told me. When Darthana ran up to me and began babbling on about her home in Silverymoon, her grandmother, and of course Lady Aulustriel the ruler of the city who she was absolutely obsessed with she was just telling me the lady’s favorite flavor of tea, orange, when Izzdarrak obviously noticing my plight came over and said “Darthana I believe I saw someone sneaking out of your room you may wish to check your possessions.†Darthana gasped and scurried away. I sighed and said “thank you, she was really starting to grate on my nerves I mean whenever am I going to need to know that lady Aulestriel’s courtyard is 30 by 32 meters.†Izzdarrak smirked and I could tell he was trying not to laugh. I smiled at him and said “Did you really see someone or were you just being chivalrous and rescuing me?†He smiled rather smugly and said “Well saw is a subjective term†he then pulled out a book of some sort the kind I had seen Elkantar studying and I realized it was one of her spell books. I smiled widely at him and said “So you were being chivalrous thanks a lot. People like her really annoy me. About five minutes after we had boarded in Silverymoon I was wishing we had just waited for my brother to get back from the mission father had sent him on.†He nodded and said putting the spell book back under his cloak “That should keep her busy for a while and give everyone some peace.†He then sat down next to me and said “So your brother’s a mage? Tell me more about him and your other siblings if you wish.†I couldn’t help smiling and said “Well my brother is a very smart guy and always very studious but he’s also just so outlandish he’s always saying things that make me laugh and question his sanity even at times but you know what they say genius and madness it’s a fine line. He also doesn’t have enough wisdom to fill a teaspoon. By the Lady of the Dance does he not!†I laughed softly to myself as I remembered some of his antics. Izzdarrak then said “I like your laugh.†I flushed stammering “Th-thank you†he grinned saying “You’re welcome please continue.†I smiled weakly and went on “I have two sisters Phyrwae and Alyna and they couldn’t be more different. My sister Phyrwae should really be the heir to our family because she’s just like mother so devout and ladylike. She’s got father’s zeal for what she does but she also has mother’s serene regal nature she’s a priestess like mother too. She should be father’s heir not me.†I sighed at this but continued on saying “My youngest sister Alyna is a complete wallflower she’s so meek and timid spends all her time reading and writing poetry, songs, I think she’s even working on a novel. She has a beautiful voice but terrible stage freight. Father’s made her perform for guests a couple times though trying to get her out of it. It hasn’t worked.†I sighed again leaning back into my chair and he said “You still haven’t told me of the last or should I say first child of the family.†I rose an eyebrow at him and he said “Tell me more about you mistress if you would.†I smiled tentatively and said “Well I'm the eldest of my three siblings and I try to be a good older sister and do my best to look after them because they’re my siblings but they’re also my best friends. I'm kind of a loner and always have been spending my time with Elkantar, Phyrwae, Alyna or a good book when they were out socializing with the other young lords and ladies, wizards and priestesses.†“I see†was all he said. I then said “How about you tell me more about you.†“I am Izzdarrak of house Eilsiryn or should I say formerly of house Eilsiryn 13th house of Ched Nasad.†“Ched Nasad? That’s where my parents fled from.†he looked at me puzzlingly and said “Is that so? Yes, now that you mention it I know of house Hlatlar it’s a rather low house though full of diviners and the ilk.†I nodded “So I’ve been told. Though I’ve never been told much else or even of what house my mother came from.†“Really? Well maybe I can help.†He said Darthana then bolted back into the room and said well shrieked really “Someone’s stolen my spell book!†I rolled my eyes and said “Don’t you have like five of those?†“Yes! but there all different and this one…†she began to ramble again on the importance of it. Izzdarrak gave me a slight frown and I gave him an apologetic look. Izzdarrak then got up and said “I’ll help you find it†he then bowed to me and murmured “Mistress.â€

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Chapter 2

When we arrived in Caer-Divinal it was snowing and dark as I packed up my gear there was a knock at the door. “Come in†I said Izzdarrak walked in “The others await you on the deck Mistress.†I nodded looking up I got caught in his gaze. His intense ice blue eyes staring at me I felt my breath catch in my throat and was helpless to do anything other then stare for awhile until some distant noise grabbed his attention and set me free. I then said “Yes I’ll be there in a moment I just need to finish up packing†“Of course†he then bowed “Izzdarrak don’t bow to me please I’d like us to be friends. Equals. He stood and stared at me again then turned about saying “I’ll see you up deck Mistress†“Of course Izzdarrak.†After I finished packing I met the other up on deck. Once up top the captain thanked me for being such good guests. I shrugged and said “You’re welcome†he then told us where we could find the mayor to sign on with the Caer-Divinal guard and help them with their problems. I nodded then made my way to leave the ship when Leohorn stopped me and said “Wait just a moment I’ve got something for ya†I turned wondering what it could be when he handed me a short sword and I recognized it as my fathers and said “Hey where’d you get this?†being a thief myself I automatically assumed he stole it. Leohorn rolled his eyes and said “He gave it to me to give to you when we landed thought you could use a good weapon he also told me to put you in charge of this little expedition.†My eyes widened and I said “What! I'm no leader I like to blend into the shadows it’s easier it’s easier to go unnoticed that way.†Leohorn smirked saying “Well your father thinks you should learn about leadership and responsibility so you’re in charge unless things get to out of control and then I’ll step in. Also your mother gave me this to give to you.†He pulled out a pretty little sliver ring with a small sapphire and said “It should help protect you its enchanted†“That’s, was it Elkantar that enchanted it?†I said slipping on the ring. Leohorn replied “I don’t know I didn’t ask and she didn’t tell me.†“Ok, ok no need to be snippy. It was just a question.†He kind of growled and walked off. Izzdarrak then almost whispered “Would you like me to eliminate him for you mistress?†I smirked trying to keep from laughing and said “No that’s ok Izzdarrak but it’s very sweet of you to offer.†He gave me a slightly puzzled look but then nodded and took a step back. We then got off the ship and walked our way down the dock where we met a couple of men one with reddish brown hair the other with dusty blonde and I could see a third one dead between them and I wondered what had happened to him. Before I could wonder any longer one of the men, the reddish brown haired one shouted “Hey who are you what are you doing here?†I noticed he was looking at me and so I replied “I'm Layla and these are my friends we’re here from Silverymoon to help with the troubles.†The blonde man cried out “By the gods she’s a dark elf and so is one of her companions.†I felt Izzdarrak stiffen behind me getting ready for a fight when the first man said “I know damn goblins didn’t take my eyes as well as John.†I assumed John was the man on the ground. I then quickly said “We’re here to help not to fight you really I mean It.†they both relaxed slightly I then noticed that one of them the blonde one was injured his arm wrapped up in a bandage. I thought it would go along way towards earning their trust if we healed it. I turned to Wandathana and she nodded walking up to the man she said “Excuse me sir you seem to be wounded mind if I help?†the blonde man looked up in surprise and said “You’re a healer?†she nodded saying “I follow the Morniglord yes. Now hold still.†The blonde man complied. I took a step away from them as she tended the blonde man I was almost semi hiding behind Leohorn and Izzdarrak. Izzdarrak then stepped all the way in front of me hand on one of his blades. I gave him a faint smile he nodded at me and then returned his attention to the two men. The blonde man flexed his arm and said “Thank you Morninglady†Wandathana smiled saying “Not a problem my good man may Lathander be with you.†She then asked “What seems to be the problem here?†“Well goblins have taken over the docks!†“I see, well not to worry we’ll take care of it.†Wandathana said with conviction. “I thought you were supposed to be in charge mistress†Izzdarrak whispered to me. I smiled at him and said “I don’t mind I’d rather not be in charge gives me more time to spend with you†I flushed happy my dark skin would hide it from him. He gave me a puzzled look as if he didn’t entirely understand my meaning. We then continued on into the docks slaughtering goblins as we went. Leohorn suggested we go into the buildings and clear them of goblins as well. He looked at me for confirmation and I nodded thinking he probably knew best and it sounded like a good idea. In one of the buildings we found a man holed up in a warehouse and told him it was safe for him to run for the town because we had already cleared out most of the goblins. We found fellow adventures in the tavern not even bothering to help take care of the goblins. Izzdarrak threatened to remove the tongue of one of them not because they were lounging getting drunk but because he had called me a wench. I flashed him an appreciative smile but we then left to get rid of the rest of the goblins which were in and under a warehouse in the north half of town. I had to pick the lock because the goblins had locked themselves in. After we had destroyed the lot of them we went up to the actual town.

We went straight to Lord Horamros to report of our actions. When we arrived outside Lord Horamros’ home I heard Izzdarrak sigh I turned and then he said “I suppose this is where we part mistress.†I rose a snowy brow at him and said “Whatever do you mean?†“I'm a prisoner and you are to be delivering me. I am resigned to my fate†“Do you not care what happens to you?†I said concernedly “No†he replied in a deadly voice “I do†I whispered. He gave me a rather shocked look but nothing more. We then went inside Horamros said “Ah, you’ve arrived I got word you would be arriving with the prisoner the man’s fate is an important matter or so the priests tell me†“It is! At least… at least to me it is.†I felt myself blushing and looked away. Horamros said “I don’t share your gentle sensitives lady but I don’t want this troublemaker causing fighting and such with my troops as he did in Silverymoon.†I ground my foot into the floor and said “Well he could stay with us I don’t mind and I doubt my companions do either.†Lord Horamros shook his head and said “Tis a strange thing when drow are teaching me about loyalty†I felt myself blushing again and looked at the floor. Horamros sighed and said “Very well he can stay with you but I’d watch your back if I were youâ€. I frowned at him but merely said “Thank you milord†he then said “Report to Ellamin Sheildheart for your orders and your wages in the palisade dismissed.†We then left and then Izzdarrak approached me and said rather harshly “Do you expect a thank you?†I was rather taken a back by his tone and I said softly “No, I don’t†“What do you expect then?†“Nothing but your friendship†“You foolish surfacer!†he then sighed and said “I cast my lot with you though and will serve you well Mistress.†I smiled and said “Thank you Izzdarrak but you know you don’t have to call me Mistress. Layla or even Laelafay is fine†he bowed and said “As you wish Mistress Layla†I sighed and said “That’s not what I meant and you know it†he smiled but said no more. I rolled my eyes then turned away from him we made our way to the inn. I figured everyone could use a respite before we went and saw this Ellamin guy. When we arrived the innkeeper greeted us rather enthusiastically I smiled hesitantly and said “Hello we were wondering if we could get something to eat and maybe some lodgings?†“Of course, of course†said the innkeeper he then hollered back into the kitchen for the cook to make something for us. I went and sat down the others followed. Izzdarrak sat down next to me carefully scanning the area I smiled at this but that smile turned into a frown when Darthana sat on the other side of him “Blasted gnome†I thought angrily glaring at her. Izzdarrak noticed and said “Everything alright Mistress?†I looked up into his ice blue eyes and I swear my heart stopped for a moment then catching my breath I said “Yes, fine, just fine†he gave me a questioning look and said “Are you sure? You looked well upset but…†he trailed off. I smiled warmly at him and said “Really I'm fine thank you for caring though†he looked away and mumbled “You’re welcome†The inn keep then brought us our food even though I had seen Izzdarrak eat on the ship. I was still surprised by how much he ate. He ate well like a Halfling but then again he told me while he lived in the Underdark he had always been practically starved never allowed to eat his fill. So I guess he was making up for lost time. He had actually been kind of surprised that I didn’t put any limits on him at all really. “Even when I worked with other surfacers they had had some rules and restraints†he had said. I told him that as long as he didn’t hurt anyone that didn’t attack him or the rest of us first I didn’t care what he did. I found him staring at me frequently as if I was a puzzle he was trying to figure out. I both liked it and found it uncomfortable at the same time. I then sort of came to when I heard Izzdarrak say “Are you not hungry Mistress you haven’t touched your plate?†I blinked and said “What? Oh sorry I was just thinking about … things.†I said. Slowing he rose a snowy brow and said “What sort of things?†I then looked down at my plate picking at it and said “Oh this and that it’s not important.†“If you say so†he said looking away I exhaled deeply hoping he wouldn’t press the matter because I’d rather not have him know I was thinking about him innocent thoughts but still it would be rather embarrassing. When I finished eating I pushed what was left toward him. It had become a sort of habit after all the humans always gave me too much food since I ate like a normal elf and not enough for him since like I said he ate like a Halfling. I didn’t even ask anymore just handed it over. “Thank you Mistress†he said as he took the plate and begin eating. I smiled and saying “You’re welcome†when everyone had finished their food the innkeeper came over and said “You would like rooms now?†I nodded saying “Yes please†“I have five rooms available so two of you will have to share sorry but one of my rooms is haunted or else you could all have your own.†Izzdarrak then said to me rather nonchalantly “we could share a room if you wish Mistress†I blushed ferociously and said “Izzdarrak!†I heard someone behind me snicker. He cocked his head to the side obviously not understanding and said “Yes, Mistress?†I looked away from him and said “Um, how about we just get rid of the ghost and then we can all have our own room†he nodded and said “As you wish Mistress†I bit my lip wondering if I had hurt his feelings but I decided that now was NOT the best time to explain why men and women who barely knew each did not sleep in the same room here on the surface. Even if at some level I would kind of like to. I admired his form blushing slightly, as I did; he caught me looking smirked rather smugly and opened his mouth. Some how knowing what he was going to say I shook my head, cleared my throat and said “Let’s go take care of that ghost†while the others made their way upstairs I sidled up next to Izzdarrak and said “I like what I see very much but I’d rather not make it public to the others. I'm afraid they would tease me.†he gave me a very serious look and said “Just say the word and I’ll take care of anyone who would dare mock you Mistress.†I smiled at him and said “No, that’s ok but it’s very sweet of you to offer†I looked around quickly then kissed him on the cheek. He looked startled and mumbled “You honor me Mistress†my smile brightened and just at that moment Darthana bounded down the stairs and said “Are you guys coming or are you just going to stay down here and make out all day?†I flushed looking away from her. Izzdarrak glared at her and said “The Mistress and I were just on are way up. Now off with you your presence displeases her.†I blushed deeper it was true but still. Darthana her normal peppy and perky self just smiled and bounded up the stairs. He then looked down at me and said “You alright†I smiled warmly at him and said “ye-yes†we then proceeded upstairs to join the others Wandathana was already in the haunted room talking to the ghost and I thought “Well she’s probably the best one to do it being a priestess and all.†I just sat down across the hall from the room and waited. Izzdarrak came and stood next to me he didn’t sit down of course because it would be harder to protect me as he would say. I smiled it was nice that he cared but I wish he would be a little less serious sometimes. I hardly ever saw him smile and I’d not once heard him laugh. He seemed to always have that ever serious look on his face. I frowned wishing I could make him happier. I then heard Wandathana say “Very well I wish you well spirit†she then came out of room and said “The spirit is a woman a woman who lost her husband at sea apparently but she still waits for his return we must find some sort of way to give her closure and then she can pass on. We should ask the innkeeper if he knows who her husband was and what became of him†“I thought you just said he was lost at sea†said Darthana “Yes but…†Wandathana said when I interrupted “but she only saw him go out fishing one day and he never returned and now she desperately waits for his return even now after all these years she holds out for some glimmer of hope or some kind adventure to bring her actual proof of his demise.†Wandathana looked at me rather surprised and kind of impressed said why yes how did you know?†I sighed and said “My best friend and baby sister is a bard and she would always love to read me epic tales of adventure, romance, and all other such things and that’s how it always happens.†Wandathana’s impressed look vanished and was replaced by a scowl “This is not some story Layla it’s real.†She said a bit angrily. I rolled my eyes and said “It will be if we do a good enough job and by Eilistraee most tales were real at one time but they’ve just been embellished a little. Relax will you?†she glared at me a bit for my callousness but said no more probably because Izzdarrak was glaring back at her as if daring her to make a move. I smirked broadly at this he was such a sweetie. I then got up grabbed his hand and said “Well let’s go and ask the innkeeper what he knows†I then led him away while he was still glaring at Wandathana. I smiled brightly at him and said “You know you’re really a rather sweet fellow.†He gave me a puzzling look and said “I'm just doing my best to watch after you Mistress.†I gave his hand a squeeze and said “You are and I think the way you are doing it is very sweet.†He gave me a look that I had never seen before one that was almost akin to fear. He broke away from me and stopped staring at me absolutely frozen. I stopped as well looking back at him and said “Did I say something wrong Izzdarrak? I'm sorry if I did. It’s just…†I trailed off biting my lip. He exhaled deeply and said “You’ve done nothing wrong Mistress I'm just not use to such things it frightens me and I'm not easily scared.†I gave him a half pout/half smile and said “I'm sorry I scared you but I meant what I said and thank you for looking after me. I’ll try to make sure you do get use to such things because you deserve it.†he gave a slight smirk, nodded and resumed walking I reached out for his hand but quickly drew it back figuring he probably want to be left alone. I saw him watching me out of the corner of his eye and he remained a close proximity to me not as close as he had been but it seemed he still didn’t wish me to leave me alone. When we arrived downstairs while Wandathana asked the innkeeper about the widow’s ghost I saw Darthana sidle up next to Izzdarrak I glared at her furiously but said nothing she then began chatter away about who knows what while he nodded and answered her questions much the same way he had at dinner. Appearing to look off into the distance while really keeping an eye on me I sighed and turned away from him frustrated. I then heard Wandathana say “Well, we need to go the tavern the barkeep there apparently knows what happened to him.†I nodded not really listening she then said a little quieter “What happened?†I didn’t even pretend to not know what she was talking about I glanced back at Izzdarrak almost forlornly and said “I told him I thought he was sweet for always looking out for me the way he did.†“And that scared him off?†I nodded looking at the ground. “I see†Wandathana said slowly she said nothing further I was surprised she had no advice for she always seemed an endless source of it. We then left and went to the tavern when we arrived Izzdarrak took a protective stance in front of me I smiled meekly at him and he nodded but then turned his attention back to the tavern at large Wandathana went and talked to the barkeep while we just hung around waiting for her to get done and I briefly wonder why we were here. Well I knew why we were here I meant why were we all here Wandathana could take care of herself and she didn’t need us here with her. Izzdarrak seemed to be thinking the same thing for he was looking about impatiently. When Wandathana came over she said “let’s go†I noticed she was carrying something but I decided not to ask. We followed Wandathana back to the inn and we waited while she went upstairs and finished putting the ghost to rest. I kept glancing over at Izzdarrak he caught me once or twice and I smiled at him blushing. He gave me a puzzled look, his lips twitching a bit but he still looked nervous. Wandathana then came down stairs and said “Well the woman’s soul has been put to rest†“Good†I said “maybe we can get some sleep now†Wandathana gave me a bit of a glare and I said “I know I'm being callous†I brought my foot up into my lap and saying “I think I have a callus on my of my toes come to think of it.†Wandathana just rolled her eyes evidently giving up on trying to turn me into a kind, caring, and considerate young lady at least for now. Izzdarrak came over smiling a bit and said “Would my poor mistress like a foot massage?†I looked up at him smiling shyly and said “Well if your offering I wouldn’t say no.†he looked a bit surprised but then said “Of course mistress†I then heard Darthana say “Why’d we even bother taking care of the ghost if their just going to end up sleeping in the same room†I flushed carefully not looking at anyone I heard Wandathana respond “We did it because it was the right thing to do not for material gain or convenience you and Layla need to learn theses things to be good caring people†Darthana and I snorted we then looked at each other and smirked I quickly looked away though remembering she was trying to steal Izzdarrak away from me “Well it’s not like he’s mine even if he does call me mistress but still…†I thought trailing off. The innkeeper then gave us each a key to one of the six rooms. Wandathana volunteered to take the previously haunted room “How altruistic of you†I said rather scathingly I then thought to myself “Wow I'm being a bit of a bitch today aren’t I?†I then saw Izzdarrak smirking and I smiled whatever mood I may be in when I saw him I couldn’t help but smile. I then went into my room and laid down I thought about just sleeping fully armored and everything when there was a knock at the door I sat up and said “Come in†Izzdarrak enter the room I smiled at him and said “Hi Izzdarrak†he bowed and said “Mistress†I sighed and said “Izzdarrak you really don’t have to call me that you know†he looked at me puzzled as ever and then apparently deciding to complete ignore my words he said “I believe you wanted a foot massage Mistress is this correct?†I leaned on one of my elbows and replied “I believe what I said was that if you were offering I wouldn’t say no. You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.†He stood there for a moment obviously unsure of what to do like it was a trick or something. He then took a step forward stopped and then closed the remaining distance between us and knelt at my bed and began to unlace my boots I smiled at him and said “I'm glad you decided to stay†he looked up at me confused and said “You wanted me to stay?†I nodded and said “Very much so†“Then why…?†I cut him off saying “Because I wanted it to be your choice. You’re not a slave Izzdarrak you’re just a companion like the others†I took his hand and said “Well maybe not just like the others†I smiled sweetly at him. He stared at me for a long time and then slowly took his hand back and then resumed unlacing my boots. He set them aside along with my socks not saying a word as he did so. He then began massaging my feet gently I could tell he had done this before every move of his fingers felt practiced as though his heart wasn’t in it. The smile faded from my face. He noticed and said “Did I do something wrong mistress?†I looked down at him forlornly and said “You don’t want to be here do you?†he stared and said “Why do you say that?†I slowly brought my feet up to my chest and said “I can tell by the way you’re rubbing my feet. It’s very precise like you’re doing it because you have to not because you want to and you don’t have to you can go if you want.†I looked away from him feeling dejected. I then heard him say “Mistress I … I am sorry. It’s just this has never happened to me before nobody has ever told me to just be my own man. I’ve always just followed orders.†He stopped for a moment and then said slowly “I’d like to try again Mistress if I may†he reached for my feet tentatively I lowered them smiling nervously at him. He took them in his hands again and this time I could tell he was trying to put some affection in it. I smiled at him he smiled back hesitatingly. I merely watched him as he worked. It was very relaxing I could feel the weariness in my feet melting away. When he was done he looked up at me expectantly and I said “That was very nice thank you.†He smiled back and said “I'm glad to of pleased you Mistress.†He then got up and turned to leave I grabbed his hand saying “Wait†as I pulled him back and he must of tripped or something because all of the sudden he was lying on top of me I blushed and he said in a soft voice almost a purr “Yes, Mistress?†it took me a moment to find my tongue but when I did I said “I was just wondering if you wanted me to well return the favor? You walked as much as I did after all.†I then heard a squeal for outside the door. Izzdarrak sprung up reaching for his swords. I then saw a small form swish away and I knew it was Darthana. Izzdarrak seemed to notice too because he took his hands off his blades and murmured “Damn gnome†he then turned to me looking expectedly at him. He actually looked uncomfortable and said “I would not dream of you degrading yourself by performing such a task†I pouted at him and said “That’s not an answer do you want a foot massage or not?†I asked with a bit more conviction this time. He didn’t respond so I waited after a bit he sighed and said almost forcing the words out “Yes I would like that†“See that wasn’t so hard now was it?†“About as hard as trying to kill an umber hulk with a rusty dagger.†He replied. I patted beside me inviting him to sit down. He walked over cautiously like I was about to pounce him or something. I couldn’t help but smile. This didn’t seem to relax him if anything it seemed to make him even more wary. When he sat down I knelt down next to him and took off his boots. I then began to massage his feet trying to remember the lady lessons from finishing school neither which nor Alyna or I really did well in but Phyrwae did of course. I then looked up as I heard Izzdarrak let out a sigh there was a look of relaxation on his face his eyes closed and I thought “Well I'm obviously doing better than I thoughtâ€. Feeling mischievous I tickled the bottom of his foot. A smile crossed his face and I said “I like your smile.†He opened his eyes and looked down at me and said “I too like your smile Mistress and I don’t just mean your lips your eyes sparkle like amethyst gems when you do so. It’s quite beautiful†I blushed and said “Thank you Izzdarrak†he nodded and said “My pleasure Mistress†I continued to stare into his eyes until a distant sound brought me back to my senses. I then looked down and resumed massing his feet when I finished he got up and said “Thank you Mistress†I smiled warmly at him and said “You’re very welcome Izzdarrak and just so you know I like your eyes too pale blue like aquamarines†“Th-thank you Mistress†he stammered I smiled and said “You’re very welcome†he then turned and quickly left the room. I sighed but figured it was probably for the best. I then disrobed the rest of the way till I was only in my undergarments and slipped under the covers of my bed. I rolled over looking at the wall that my room shared with Izzdarrak’s room pouting I then blushed furiously burying my face in the covers as I thought that I would have actually kind of liked him to stayed and shared my bed. After all I was a noble lady and ladies don’t share their bed with some random guy they barely know no matter how handsome and charmingly sweet they were. I blushed deeper and buried myself further into the blankets happy no one could see my face or read my thoughts. It took me a while to get to sleep but I finally managed it. In the morning I got up dressed and when I left my room I ran into Izzdarrak who was leaving his room as well I smiled at him and said “Morning†he bowed and said “Good morning Mistress†I grabbed his arm and said “Please don’t bow to me Izzdarrak. I'm not royalty or anything like that and you’re not a servant even if you try to act like one.†Izzdarrak looked confused for a moment and then said “Yes Mistress I obey†I sighed and turned about and went downstairs to get some breakfast thinking “Why does he have to be so cute?! Er I mean difficult yes, difficult.†I could feel my face getting hot and when I made it downstairs I went and sat away from the others I needed time to think. I sat eating my breakfast my thoughts swirling around my mind like snowflakes in the storm outside when the very subject of my thoughts sat down next to me. I jumped up startled. He then gave me an apologetic look and said almost broodingly getting up to leave “Forgive me Mistress†I quickly reached out for him and said “Wait don’t go I'm sorry you just startled me is all. I was deep in my thoughts.†He looked back at me almost smiling and said “Oh and what were you thinking about?†I looked away feeling the heat rise in my cheeks and said in barely a whisper “Youâ€. He sat back down next to me looking particularly smug. I continued to pick at my food a bit but I wasn’t really hungry anymore. Izzdarrak noticing he said in a low voice “I'm sorry if I made you uncomfortable Mistress†I looked up seeing a mixture of concern and regret on his face. I smiled and said “Don’t worry about it. I'll be fine. I'm just not good with emotions.†I sighed greatly “Why?†I thought “Why was my speech always so ungainly when I spoke to him? Usually I was quite a charming, charismatic young lady but not around him†I hated myself for it. He then said “Well that makes two of us.†I smiled saying “I guess we’ll have to learn about them together.†“I guess so.†We then finished eating and went up to pay for our evenings stay I put my gold on the counter I waited for Izzdarrak to put his own gold up there when he asked “Mistress you’re not going to pay for me?†I raised an eyebrow at him and asked in return “Don’t you have your own gold? He then murmured “No†then like a bolt of lighting it hit me I had forgotten to give him his share of the goblin loot everyone else had made sure they got their take he hadn’t probably because he still thought himself a slave and slaves don’t get a cut of the treasure I guess. I then pulled out a bag of gold coins and handed it to him saying “Sorry I forgot to give you your share of the goblin treasure†he took it and said slowly “You’re giving this slave a portion of your earnings? I'm honored Mistress.†I frowned at him and said “Izzdarrak you are not a slave how many times do I have to tell you that? You are my friend.†I then almost unconsciously reached up and stroked his cheek saying softly “My very sweet and handsome friend†then realizing what I had said I felt the heat rising up in my cheeks I dropped my hand and ran out the door I heard someone laughing as I did so. Izzdarrak stared after his Mistress and then at the bag of gold he had been given by her. He then opened it and began to get out the gold the innkeeper chuckled and said “Keep your money friend you may need it†Izzdarrak was puzzled by this statement but said nothing closing up the bag he left in search of his Mistress.

I breathed deeply trying to restore my heart rate to normal when I heard someone coming up behind me. Before I had even put my hand on my dagger I heard a familiar voice say “It’s just me Mistress†I relaxed turning around I gave an embarrassed sort of smile and said “Oh try not to sneak up on me like that its startlingâ€. He nodded and said “I’ll do my best†I took a step closer and replied “I know you will you’re already doing a good job and I’ll do my best to learn the sound of your steps I wouldn’t want to hurt you by accident.†He smiled saying “Why thank you Mistress you are too good to this slave.†I frowned saying “How many times do I have to tell you you’re not a slave!†He smirked walking away towards the palisade. I followed closely behind him. When we arrived and reported to Ellamin Sheildheart he gave us a few odd jobs to do gathering wood to fix a hole in the palisade wall for a dwarf who was not very fond of Izzdarrak or me because we were drow but then we weren’t very fond of dwarves either. After that we were to requisition some more arrows for the archers when we returned with them the lead archer Davian said “Thank you for your help I’d like to thank you personal like†Izzdarrak who had not been paying much attention turned his full attention on Davian. I became quite uncomfortable and said “Um well thanks but I…†he then said “Don’t be daft woman I meant by giving you these†he then handed me a few flasks of burning oil to I assume toss at goblins. I then turned to leave and Izzdarrak was right there he was looking almost angrily at Davian and said “Who does he think he is talking to you like that he obviously has no idea how to talk to powerful females.†I smiled at him chuckling and said “And you do of course.†He raised a silvery brow at me and said “Are you mocking me?†“Not at all†I replied “You always seem to know what to say unlike myself where I always seem to embarrass myself when talking to you†I sighed looking down at my feet. He then tilted my head back up so I was looking into his eyes and he said “I think you’re quite cute when you get embarrassed.†I could feel my face getting hot. He then chuckled and said “Yes quite cute indeed†“Th-thank you†I stammered. “You’re welcome Mistress.†He then let his hand fall saying “We should probably get going†I nodded unable to speak. We then went back to Ellamin and he gave us are next task which was to go and speak to a priest of Myrkul who was interrogating a goblin corpse. I kind of gave a double take at that thinking “How can you interrogate a corpse?†then I thought “Oh right priest of Myrkul, god of the dead, that’s how.†We then left Ellamin and went to the makeshift morgue the priest had set up. When we entered he said “Hello there please come in but mind the dead now†“Right†I said a little unnerved by the man which was quite the accomplishment as I wasn’t easily intimidated. He then nodded saying “More here to pay homage to old king skull†it wasn’t a question but a statement. I shook my head saying “No we’re not worshipers of Myrkul†the priest then said not looking up “All end up paying Myrkul in the end†I rolled my eyes and Izzdarrak said “Priests always find ways to make anything their gods business.†I nodded in agreement saying “True†Wandathana looked kind of offended by the implication. I shrugged not really caring. Mother would have admonished me for my lack of manners but she wasn’t here and my chaperone Leohorn was definitely not the type to harp on me for bad manners the way he acted. I smiled it was nice to be able to just act freely “Well almost freely†I thought glancing at Leohorn. I then felt Izzdarrak lay a hand on my shoulder and say “Just say the word and I’ll end him Mistress.†I smiled and placed my hand on his saying “No that’s alright. Thank you though you’re so very sweet.†I then looked back at the Myrkulite and said “We need to know what you’ve found out.†The priest nodded and said “I can tell you what I’ve found out but I don’t know any goblin so I won’t be able to translate it for you†I waved a hand saying “Don’t worry I know I significant amount of goblin just tell me and I’ll be able to translate it for Ellamin.†He then proceeded to tell me everything he had gotten out of the goblin according to what he told me the goblins were planning some sort of invasion of the town and that it would be soon in no less then a couple of days. He also told me the name of the leaders and that there was a traitor in our midst. I wrote down all the key points so I wouldn’t forget anything. We then went back to Ellamin and told him of everything we had learned for the priest of Myrkul. He nodded and then sent us to gather the Red Dragon band. I rolled my eyes thinking great they’re probably still deep in their cups. When we stepped outside I said “Maybe we should look for that traitor the goblin mentioned before we go and gather those Red Dragon fellows.†“Are you trying to avoid them for some reason?†Said Leohorn “Sort of†I replied “they were rather unpleasant to say the least†Izzdarrak took a defense step in front of me and said “I’ll kill anyone who dares displease you Mistress.†I smiled at him saying “Thank you Izzdarrak but I think we may get in trouble for just inadvertently slaying them.†He nodded saying “Of course Mistress.†I smiled at him fondly for a bit when Leohorn captured my attention saying “Blast it girl! You can daydream later now decide are we going to look for this traitor or go and gather up the Red Dragons?†Izzdarrak flexed threateningly saying in a dangerously soft voice “Don’t yell at her†Leohorn glared at him saying “I’ll yell at anybody I bloody want to drow.†Still in that dangerously soft voice Izzdarrak said “Anybody but her†Leohorn snorted and stormed off grumbling to himself. I beamed at Izzdarrak and then I said a bit shakily “let’s… let’s go and find this traitor.†We were walking by an apparently empty house when I heard something move about inside it. I snuck close and looked in the window inside I saw a mage conversing with some goblins. I said under my breath “Looks like we found our traitor†Leohorn then said rather loudly “What! Well we must stop him!†he then went and burst though the door. “Wait!†I said none of them listened to me though except Izzdarrak of course. I then said rather angrily “Damn them! A more stealthy approach would have been better.†Izzdarrak nodded saying “I agree Mistress it’s always better especially when dealing with a mage.†I gave a wry smile and said “I know but what are you going to do? Humans are impetuous must have something to do with their short lives†Izzdarrak nodded and added “and all gnomes are just insane.†“True. Well we better get in their and help them they might need It.†we then followed the others in who were already in full throws of battle with the mage and his goblins. I quietly snuck up behind the mage and tossed some dispelling powder I had gotten from my brother on him and then before he knew it I pierced the back of his skull with my dagger and he crumpled to the ground. The others easily dispatched the goblins. When It was all done and Wandathana was patching everyone up I said “You see it would have been a lot easier just to of let me sneak in here and kill the mage then you could barge in shouting about justice and such nonsense and kill the goblins no one would have scorch marks that’s for sure†Maronna then said “Sneak attacks can be useful but I avoid them when I can it’s not a very honorable way to win a battle.†Izzdarrak snorted saying “Oh right so you’d rather die? Stealth is always a good option kill your enemy before they kill you and to the abyss with honor.†I smiled over at Izzdarrak and began looking though the mage’s pockets. I found an arcane scroll but all I could make out was transport. I handed the scroll to Darhana and said “You know what this is?†she took it and after examining it for a moment she said “This is a teleportation scroll it lets you bring who ever has the other one, for they come in pairs, right to you isn’t that neat?†I then said “Well, we should probably give this to Horamros.†“Yes, we should.†said Wandathana we then took the scroll to Horamros and explained everything to him. “Now off to the docks.†said Leohorn. I groaned Izzdarrak then said “Don’t worry mistress I’ll protect you.†I simply smiled at him and he gave me a bit of a half smile back and quite suddenly turned and walked away leaving me kind of confused. We then went to the tavern. The Red Dragon mercenaries or adventuring company as they called themselves were still drunk very, very drunk. They were shouting at tavern maids for more ale and trying to grab their bottoms as they passed by. It was all rather vulgar and distasteful. I took a deep breath and then walked over to them. One said “Hey you’re back. You know I didn’t notice last time you here you’re rather cute you want join us for a drink and maybe a little something else later? I’ve never bedded a drow wench before but I hear they’re great in bed.†Izzdarrak glared fiercely at the man but he was too drunk to notice. I said politely “No, thank you.†The man reached out towards me saying “Aw come on I won’t hurt you†quick as flash Izzdarrak grabbed the man’s arm and twisted it snarling “She said no!†the man cried out in pain as his friends jumped up. I laid a hand on Izzdarrak saying “Its ok Izzdarrak let go of him, please.†Izzdarrak looked at me. He looked a bit disappointed as if he really wanted to hurt the man but he did it nodding and mumbling “Yes, Mistress†I smiled softly at him patting his hand he squeezed my hand tightly and then let go. I looked back over at the Red Dragon group and said “Why I'm here is that you are all to report for duty up at the palisade now.†The leader Gregory I believe his name was said “We will later we’re busy.†I then said “You know I met your friend Karos, the mage you were traveling with†“Yea†said Gregory “How’s he doing?†“Not to good.†I said “he’s dead.†“What?!†they all exclaimed “Yea turns out he was working with the goblins so we had to kill him being a traitor and all. It would be a shame if word got out he was part of your adventuring company the whole town might think you all are traitors too.†Gregory stammered “But he wasn’t one of us we just met him in Silverymoon!†“So you say. I would suggest you get down to the palisade right quick. It’ll put you in better standing with the town and I won’t have to tell anyone about your association with said traitor.†They all just stared at me then looked at their leader and he said “Well what are you all staring at let’s get moving!†they all got up and hurried out of the tavern. Izzdarrak looked at me beaming and said “That was genius Mistress.†I smiled saying “Thanks†I felt rather proud of myself to be honest. “I don’t know†said Leohorn “that’s damn close to blackmail if it isn’t outright.†I then said “Hey it worked didn’t it? And it’s not like I'm a paladin like you. A little blackmail is perfectly acceptable for someone in my profession. We should get back to Ellamin he’ll want to know of our success.†We then left the tavern and went back to the palisade. When we arrived I informed Ellamin of the Red Dragons arrive for duty. “Good, good†he said “Wait a minute. Did you here that?†I did there were sounds of battle coming from outside. Little Thomas came running in saying “The goblins are attacking sir!†Ellamin nodded and said “Right order the town gates sealed.†He then looked to me and said “As for you all if you need healing I'm sure Avery will be happy to oblige other wise get out there and kill some goblins!†he then stormed out drawing his sword. I began to follow along with the others but Izzdarrak held me back saying “Why don’t you stay here Mistress? I’ll come and get when it’s safe.†I smiled at him and said “No I can’t do that Izzdarrak.†“Why not?†he said rather urgently “I couldn’t stay here why you and the others are fighting for your lives I have to help. I don’t think I could live with the guilt of just hiding in here like a coward.†He frowned and said “But at least you’d still be alive†I took his hand and said “Don’t worry my friend everything will be okay they’re only goblins after all†he nodded and said “I’ll do my best to protect you Mistress†I smiled warmly saying “I know you will.†The following battle didn’t last long but it was tougher then I thought it would be. Many of the palisade soldiers died and we suffered many wounds ourselves. More than once did someone (usually Izzdarrak) save my behind. Though I thought I did all right over all I saved a few people myself and managed to kill quite a few

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Chapter 3

When we returned to Ellamin he said “You did good out there Caer-Divinal thanks youâ€. I nodded saying “Thanks but you know some actual form of payment would be niceâ€. He said “Of course, of course. Take your gold and be off with you but report back on the morrow I have another mission for you.†“Lovely†I said “no doubt one with death at every turn. I wonder if father is falling back into the old ways.†I saw Leohorn open his mouth no doubt to defend my fathers honor against what I thought to be an obvious joke. When Izzdarrak put a hand on my shoulder saying “Don’t worry I won’t let that happen Mistress even if that is his plan.†I smiled at him and put my hand on his. “Thank you Izzdarrak you’re too good to this sorry excuse for a lady†He gave my shoulder a squeeze and said “and you’re too good to this slave lady.†I was just about to object to him calling himself a slave again when I saw a particular gleam in his eye. I smiled but said nothing I really was growing quite fond of him. We then went back to the inn for the evening. I tossed and turned a bit but was able to get to sleep relatively quickly. In the morning after breakfast we went back to Ellamin. On our way there Wandathana said to me “You don’t look as if you’ve slept well.†I sighed looking away “I didn’t really my thoughts a bit jumbled and I guess some of that seeped into my dreams†I shrugged “It’s no big deal it wasn’t that bad really just a bit of restlessness. It happens.†“It does†said Wandathana “but I get the feeling it’s deeper than that†seeing were she was going I said in a firm voice “You’re mistaken†being a rouge a I was rather adept at lying and she said “I see my apologies.†When she stepped away Izzdarrak seeing my discomfort came over and said “Did she do something to upset you?†I gave him a bemused smile saying “No she was unintentionally pointing out that my thoughts are obviously not as private as I thought a disturbing revelation.†He raised a snowy brow at me and said “Maybe she’s just very perceptive because I can not tell what you are thinking. You are a complete mystery to me.†My smile widening I said “Well maybe and I can’t usually tell what you’re thinking either just so you know†he smirked slightly saying “I suppose that’s a good thing†when we arrived at Ellamin’s he told us we were to be going to take back a near by logging village named Valintara. According to reports it was choked with orcs and they needed to be cleared out and the people rescued. I nodded saying “Very well.†I was then given directions and sent on my way. It took two days to reach our destination. Our first evening out in the open was cool and quiet. After we had made camp I sat down and looked up at the stars picking out my favorite constellations. I then felt someone sit down next to me. I turned smiling thinking it was Izzdarrak my face fell when I saw it was Darthana. She didn’t seem to notice she began babbling on about different star constellations, their significance and how they of course related back to lady Alustriel I fell backwards rolling my eyes. After half an hour of this I sat up and said “Darthana why don’t you go bother someone else?†her eyes then lit up and she said “that reminds me.†she didn’t say of what of course she then got up and began to run off then turned about and said “Thanks Layla.†“You’re very welcome Darthana.†I turned away looking up to the sky again after a moment or two of silence I heard someone sit down again. I angrily turned around saying “I thought I told you to go away†I the flushed noticing that it was Izzdarrak this time. He froze for a moment and then said “I'm sorry Mistress I’ll leave†I reached up grabbing his hand saying “No wait! I'm sorry I thought you were Darthana coming back to annoy me†he almost smiled at me then said “No it’s just this humble male Mistress. I hope my company is more suitable.†I tugged him down and said “Very much so†I stared into his eyes for a moment and then blushing I looked away saying “Um do you know any of the constellations Izzdarrak?†he shook his head saying “No I haven’t looked up at the stars much since I've been here.†“Why is that? They’re so beautiful.†“Bah, they’re just a mess of twinkling lights†I frowned at him saying “Perhaps but they are pretty twinkling lights†“I’ve seen pretty things†he then looked away seeming to think he said too much. He glanced back at me then looked away again and got up saying “Sleep well mistress.†I looked up and began to reach for his hand to pull him back but dropped my hand saying “Of course you too Izzdarrak.†I then wrapped my arms about myself thinking about what he had said hoping he had been talking about me though I doubted it. I then rolled out my bedroll and slipped into it drifting off to sleep thinking about our conversation. In the morning we got up ate and packed up. Izzdarrak seemed to be well not exactly avoiding me but was certainly acting differently. I wasn’t sure what to do. Had I done something wrong? If I had I was sorry but I didn’t know what I’d be apologizing for. I was still brooding when we set up camp that night. I heard Leohorn saying we’d reach Valintara early tomorrow. I sighed as I set my pack down I then sat down and began to sharpen my sword and dagger. Izzdarrak then came over and sat down next to me he said nothing and began sharpening his own blades. We sat in silence for the longest while before he finally set his swords down and said “What is it that is so similar us?†I looked at him and rose an eyebrow confused by the question “Well†I said “we’re both drow here on the surface. We laugh, cry, hate, love…â€â€ I trailed off suddenly embarrassed. He looked at me and said “I'm a drow you are surface elf whose skin just happens to be dark and I don’t cry and I’ve never loved.†I frowned at him saying “ever?†“No†he said sternly “I was just trying to find out what’s so similar so equal between us.†“Ah I see†I took his hand and said “Izzdarrak equality means disregarding all differences and excepting people just the way they are.†I stroked his hand lightly. He sighed and said “I should have known you would say something like that. Why do you keep trying to relinquish the power you hold over me?†“Because you’re just using this pretend humility as a shield of some sort†“A shield against what?†he asked looking up at me. I sighed this time saying “I don’t know against truly getting to know me maybe.†He sat speechless and looked down at our joined hands. He then got up quickly saying “Goodnight Mistress†We both then went to bed my head swirling with tonight’s conversation yet again. I awoke earlier then I usually did because I felt someone was watching me. I sat up quickly reaching for my dagger and I saw it was only Izzdarrak I let out a sigh of relief. “I'm sorry if I scared you mistress.†He said looking away. I smiled over at him and said “It’s alright I'm glad to have you watching my back†he gave me a small smile saying “I always will Mistress.†“I know and I’ll always be there watching yours†he gave a bit of a half smile and said “Come on I’ll get you some breakfast†I grinned saying “Give me a second I need to get dressed†I reached for my clothes and quickly dressed I noticed him watching and I flushed still grinning. I then took him by the arm and said “Let’s go get that breakfast you must be hungry†at that moment I heard his stomach rumble and I smirked saying “I’ll take that as a yes†we then arrived at the fireside the about the same time as Wandathana and she smiled saying “Good morning†I smiled back and said “And to you. So what’s for breakfast?†“Same as always dried meat and biscuits.†“Ah†I said “well that’s not too bad I like biscuits†she nodded as she began heating up water for tea. She then said “You’re up rather early Layla what caused this?†I shrugged and said “Nothing in particular I just woke up early is all†then suddenly remembering something I said to Izzdarrak “Wait here I’ll be right back†he took a step after me as I left and I said “Don’t worry so much just relax and I’ll return in a moment†I then ran back to my bag and rummaged though it saying “Where is it? Where is it? Where is it?†I then found what I was looking for a packet of fresh fruit I had nicked back in Caer-Divinal. “Ah here it is†I then went back to Izzdarrak. He looked relived when he saw me coming back I smiled at him and said “You really do worry too much†he opened his mouth to defend himself when I placed a finger on his lips saying “But I have to admit that I kind of like it.†he said nothing but reached up and stroked my cheek. My smile widened and holding up the fruit I said “This is what I went to get you want some?†he looked at it suspiciously for a moment and then nodded after he took a bite his eyes grew large and he said “What is this?†I ate a piece saying “Spiced peaches you like them?†he nodded saying “Very much so mistress†I grinned and handed him the rest of the bag. He got though about half the bag before he stopped and looked up at me almost guiltily and said “Did you want anymore?†I shook my head chuckling saying “No you keep them they’re a gift†he looked surprised and said “Thank you†“You’re very welcome†we then sat down next to the fire and in moments Wandathana had breakfast ready. I sat there eating just staring off into the distance not lost in thought exactly for I wasn’t thinking of anything in particular. Before I knew it I had my head on Izzdarrak’s shoulder. I came to when I felt him wrap his arm around me. I looked up at him and smiled warmly. I then noticed the others, all of them, were watching. I found myself thinking “When did they get here?†I felt my face grow hot but I didn’t shy away because I did want to be close to him. So I got comfortable and finished my breakfast. Once everyone had finished eating we packed up and left. We reached Valintara by mid-day. We were greeted by a band of orcs who had put up a barricade blocking our way. One of them stepped forward and asked “Why you here? This be orc territory†Leohorn looked at me as if expecting me to speak up. I shook my head and stepped back. Leohorn rolled his eyes and turned to the orc saying “We’re here to drive you out of the Valintara that’s what orc.†“Ha I like to see you try human!†The orc then left leaving the others to fight. The battle was quick but intense from behind their barricade they fired arrows at us one which nearly took my head off while Darthana fired her spells at them. When we broke though they brought out there axes and charged but a significant amount of them were already severely wounded so we were able to take them out rather quickly. Afterward Izzdarrak ran over to me and asked “Are you alright?†I smiled at him fondly and said “Yes. Are you?†he still seemed a bit confused when I acted concerned about him but was slowly getting use to it he nodded saying “Yes Mistress†“I'm glad†I replied “Come now we have more orcs to kill†“Of course, Mistressâ€. We continued on fighting our way though and we defeated a group of orcs who appeared to be guarding a human home. Once we disposed of them we searched the house looking for those who lived there for it showed signs of being recently inhabited. We split up into two groups one to search outside and one to search the actual home. Wandathana, Izzdarrak, and I searched the house. Wandathana volunteered to search the front rooms so that left the back rooms for us. They were comprised of a wash room and a bedroom. The wash room was tiny all it had in it was a wash tub, some towels, a washboard, and some clothes hanging up to dry. “Boring†I said “where’s the loot?†“I doubt this place will have much in the way of loot Mistress.†Izzdarrak said as he walked over to the washtub. I smirked saying “Well maybe not completely boring.†He looked over at me and putting two and two together he said softly “As you wish Mistress.†He then began to disrobe. My smirk turned into a pout and I said sighing “You don’t get the concept of teasing do you?†he stopped looking at me questioningly. I walked up to him admiring his rippling muscles and said “Put your shirt back on Izzdarrak. Maybe someday when you understand we can do this proper.†I turned to leave rather despondently when he grabbed my hand and said well whispered really “I'm sorry.†I looked back at him and saw the regret in his eyes and squeezed his hand tight whispering back “Don’t be sorry your own such experiences must have been different and far from joyful I… I just don’t want to do this until you want to because you care for me not because you think you have to.†He looked away from me for a moment and then looked back resolvedly and stroked my cheek. We then went into the bedroom and searched it as well. It was pretty utilitarian like the rest of the house just a bed and a dresser with both a mirror and jewelry box on it. I looked through it quickly finding only one thing of value a simple leather thong with an emerald hanging from it. “Hmm†I said “This could be worth something. I wonder if it’s real.†I walked over to the window and ran the gem across it. It made quite the scratch. “Seems like it†I pocketed it. I then happened to glance at the mirror and froze thinking “Is that what I look like for the love of Eilistraee!†I quickly began running my fingers through my hair trying to straighten it out. Izzdarrak came over shaking his head muttering something like “Females†he took both my hands and said looking deep into my eyes “You look fine. Beautiful and fearsome as any matron.†I gave a small smile knowing he was trying to pay me a compliment even if a matron mother wasn’t the best thing to be compared to. I then looked back at mirror at him this time and said “That’s easy for you to say look at you.†He did and shrugged saying “I look the same as I did last time I saw myself.†I pulled his hands close to my lips and said smiling “So you were always so unbelievably handsome?†he didn’t take the compliment still looking at himself saying “not too handsome luckily it spells an early death in the Underdark for a male in squabbles of females over the prime breeding piece.†I let our hands fall still interlocked I looked down at them pouting just a bit. Wandathana then stuck her head in saying “You two found anything I haven’t. The place is awfully…†she the stopped seeing our closeness and said “Sorry am I interrupting?†“Interrupting what?†asked Izzdarrak raising a snowy brow at her. I suddenly dropped his hands for his words hurt. I knew that he didn’t do it on purpose but still. I then walked from the room saying nothing. Wandathana watched me leave me and then turned to Izzdarrak saying “Okay now I'm sure of it. What happened?†“I don’t know†he said honestly. She rolled her eyes saying “Of course you don’t†she then ran after me.

I walked out of the small home and almost suddenly ran into Leohorn. He looked at me sternly and said “Something wrong?†I realized that I must be about an open book right now if Leohorn could tell I was upset. I adjusted myself and put on a bright but not too bright smile saying “I'm fine. Why?†he studied me for a bit then saying “No reason you just looked a bit upset†I laughed softly saying “Don’t be ridiculous I'm fine.†“Alright then†he then walked off and I took a deep breath trying to regain control. Wandathana then came up to me and said “What’s wrong?†“Nothing!†I exclaimed “Why does everyone think something’s wrong?†“Well, it’s just you looked kind of upset when you left so I thought I would check on you†I smiled saying “Thank you but I assure you that I am fine†she walked off frowning and said “Ok if you say soâ€. We then went on taking care of few more bands of orcs until we came across a druid they had captured he asked about his wife and home which the orcs had also captured. We told him that we had liberated his home of the orcs but we hadn’t come across any prisoners other than him. He looked disappointed and said “Well if you find her will you…?†Wandathana cut him off saying “Of course don’t worry I'm sure she’s fine†I thought to myself “Why don’t you go looking for her yourself I mean if you love her and all.†I opened my mouth to say so but than closed it knowing it would be rather rude. Izzdarrak didn’t have the same scruples though and did ask “Why don’t you go rescue her yourself I thought you surfacers held love in high regard doing anything for those you love or is that just propaganda?†“Izzdarrak!†said Wandathana. He ignored her waiting for an answer the druid then said “Aye I do love my wife but in my current condition I doubt I’d be any help.†Izzdarrak scowled not accepting this he said “I would go after my Mistress despite my condition.†I gasped taking his hand in my own. The druid smiled saying “I have no doubt you would my good man but I'm afraid I have neither your strength nor your resolve.†Izzdarrak didn’t take the compliment instead he looked away muttering “Weakling†I squeezed his hand tight and whispered to him “Would you really do that for me?†he looked at me surprised and said “Of course I would†I smiled brightly whispering back “I’d would do the same for you†he looked rather startled by this and said “Why?†“Because I care about you you’re special to me.†“I care about you too Mistress.†All of the sudden he pushed me down into the snow I didn’t even have time to wonder why because out of nowhere a flaming arrow came straight at him and he deflected it with his sword. I quickly got up bringing out my dagger. I threw it at the nearest orc it flew true catching him in the throat it then quickly returned to my hand and I threw it at another. We continued fighting them up the path they had come from and we came upon a woman who I assumed was the druid’s wife. She smiled and thanked us for our help and asked of her husband we told her we had saved him as well and he should be home safe and sound and we would escort her if she wanted. She shook her head saying “No I can find my way home thank you though†I felt bad for taking what was obviously her necklace and asked “Is this yours?†I pulled it from my pocket. Her eyes widened and she said “Yes! Where did you find it? It was a gift from my husband.†I handed it over saying “One the orcs who had invaded your home had it in there possession.†“I see thank you yet again. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to get back home.†â€Of course†I said stepping out of her way. When she was gone Izzdarrak asked “Mistress why did you give that back to her she would have surely put it off to the orcs and you would have gotten away.†I sighed saying “I don’t know I felt bad for taking it when I met her. Also, I don’t need it. I'm not a rogue for profit but for the fun of it.†“I see†he said. I decided to make sure they had both made it home because I knew it would bug me if I didn’t. When we arrived the druid was outside his home fixing something the orcs had broken. Seeing us he waved saying “Ah, there’s our saviors. Welcome what can I do for you?†I then said “I just wanted to make sure you had both made it home safe and sound.†The druid smiled and said “Why that’s awfully kind of you milady.†I didn’t like the way he was looking at me and I said slowly “You’re welcome. Well we should get going.†I turned to leave and he said “Wait why don’t you all stay the night. A warm meal and a roof over your head is the least we can offer you for all you have done.†I glanced back at the others who all seemed to think it was a great idea. Still leery of the druid I nodded and followed into the house. Izzdarrak pulled me back as the others went inside. “I don’t like the way that man looks at you Mistress.†I let out a sigh of relief and said “You noticed it too? I thought I might be being paranoid.†He shook his head saying rather venomously “You are not and if he so much as touches you I’ll cut off his hands…†he stopped suddenly then continued slowly “unless you wish his touch and then I shall not intervene of course†my face softened and I said “Of course I don’t Izzdarrak.†A brief look of relief washed over his face and he said “As you wish Mistress.†He then turned and followed the others into the house and I followed him. When we entered I smelled something delicious. I recognized it as roast pheasant something I hadn’t had in a while. I sat down at the table far from the druid for he did make me rather uncomfortable. Izzdarrak sat down next to me throwing the druid a fearsome glare flexing slightly. He blanched looking away. Izzdarrak smirked straightening up. I smiled at him affectionately and he nodded at me. I then noticed I wasn’t the only one admiring Izzdarrak’s form. I saw the druidess looking up and down him appreciatively. I was appalled didn’t these people understand the concept of marriage! I glared angrily at her and she looked away but I caught her sneaking looks every now and then my fury increasing. I had never been so angry. I wanted to leap across the table and gouge her eyes out. I took a deep breath and tried to remain calm.

Mean while Izzdarrak was feeling much the same though he was having much more success intimidating the “competition†the druid was becoming increasingly paler and had stopped looking at me all together. After dinner we rolled out our bedrolls. Izzdarrak sat on top his sharpening his swords rather aggressively and I sat next to him reading glancing up every now and then scanning the cottage. Soon after we went to bed, I awoke to the sound of feet walking towards me. I lay still pretending I hadn’t noticed. I then felt an unfamiliar touch on my shoulder as well as an unfamiliar voice say “Milady are you awake†I was about to reach for my dagger. But before I could make a move Izzdarrak was up and had his blade to the druid’s throat and said in a deadly voice “Remove your hand before I do it for you human.†I looked over at Izzdarrak fondly. His eyes flicked to mine for a moment but he did nothing more. The druid then removed his hand saying “I merely wanted to ask the lady a simple question.†“The answer is no†I said not even turning to look at him. Izzdarrak smirked widely saying “You heard her now leave.†The druid did so rather disappointedly. I sat up smiling at Izzdarrak “Thank you for defending me.†“Of course Mistress I am here to serve.†I wish that had been the end of the nights “excitement†not so unfortunately after we had fallen back asleep I was woken once again by the sound of on coming footsteps. Once again I feigned sleep if it was that druid again I might just let Izzdarrak kill him or at least take a hand. “No†I thought “you will notâ€. It wasn’t the druid but the druidess. She crept quietly over to Izzdarrak and touched his cheek. I was livid about ready to pounce. Izzdarrak beat me to the punch. Quick as a flash he had his blade to her throat. She gulped saying “What if I had been your lady?†Izzdarrak glared saying “I know my Mistress’ touch and it’s no where near as clumsy as yours.†I blushed. The druidess frowned saying “Oh really? Well I'm sorry I don’t have her elven grace.†“No you don’t and I suggest you go back to your husband before I wake her up.†The druidess then said in a soft sultry voice reaching out to him “Come on I'm sure I could show you a good time†I then got up and before she knew it I had her pinned to the wall my blade just barely piercing her throat a trickle of blood sliding down her collar. I then said in a soft deadly voice “I believe he declined your offer so you best leave before I lose my temper.†The druidess’ eyes flicked toward Izzdarrak he was grinning rather wickedly and said “Don’t look at me she’s MY Mistress I don’t tell her what to do.†The druidess’ eyes grew wide with fear. I had to admit that that gave me a rather good feeling. I then re-sheathed my dagger and said “Go on now shoo.†She ran off back to her bedroom. Izzdarrak still with that wicked grin said “Admit it you enjoyed that†I grinned myself saying “Yeah I did. I also rather enjoyed you turning her down and complimenting me at the same time†he raised an eyebrow saying “When did I do that?†I laughed softly at what I thought at his being a joke. When I realized it wasn’t I said “When you said my touch was a lot less clumsy then hers.†“Ah that†he said “that wasn’t a compliment but a statement of fact.†I blushed saying “Well I still liked it.†“I'm glad to of pleased you†I let out a yawn saying “Well maybe we can get some sleep now. I know we’re both irresistible but still a girl needs her beauty sleep.†“You don’t Mistress you’re beautiful enough.†I blushed even more deeply and went over and kissed his cheek saying “Goodnight Izzdarrak†“Goodnight Mistress†he murmured. In the morning Izzdarrak and I ate out on the steps I saw Wandathana throwing us angry glances obviously she thought we were being rude. I really didn’t care after last night I wasn’t going anywhere near our “hostsâ€. “She’s staring again†Izzdarrak said still eating as if nothing was wrong. I sighed “I know. I wish she find out the whole story before judging us. She seems to get upset at us rather easily you think it’s because we’re drow? Or something else?†he shrugged saying “I don’t know and I don’t care what she thinks but what she does. As long as she does nothing more than stare than she’s not a threat.†“True.†I said smiling “Handsome and smart what a deal.†I chuckled lightly scooting closer to him. He smirked widely saying “I'm elated my Mistress is satisfied with her purchase.†I laughed again saying “Very much so!†the others than came out of the cottage obviously just finishing up their own breakfast. Wandathana came out last and said glaring at me “I thought you were supposed to be a lady Layla and yet you have been nothing but rude to our hosts who took us in and gave us food and shelter. By the light of Lathander what is wrong with you girl?!†before I could even reply Izzdarrak was up and had moved for her. Leohorn stepped between them saying “Calm down no need to get violent†Izzdarrak reached for his swords saying “I’ll show you violent.†I stood up placing a hand his shoulder saying “It’s ok Izzdarrak let it go†he turned to me seemingly lost for words but then said “I don’t understand I thought…†I placed a finger on his lips saying “Hush I’ll explain later.†He nodded stepped behind me. I then said “Wandathana did you even consider the possibility that they had offended us somehow? So we were trying to avoid a conflict by not interacting with them. No of course you didn’t. You immediately side with them and assume that we are the ones in the wrong. Why is this? Is it because they’re human like you and we are drow? If so I call you a hypocrite priestess for is not one of the morning lord’s virtues to treat all as equals? Perhaps not as much as Selune’s clergy, but I digress, you clearly side with complete strangers over those you travel with on an issue you know nothing about. Would you like to know the facts or just continue on believing what you do now? I for one do not really care one way or the other as long as this doesn’t affect you on the battle field.†Everyone just stared at me for a moment stunned and then turned and looked at Wandathana. Slowly she said “I apologize for my words. You are right I suppose I should have asked you first before flying off the handle like that. Please tell me what happened.†I nodded “As you wish. Last evening after we had all went to sleep I was awoken by the sound of footsteps it was the druid and he had come to ask if I wished to bed him and I declined.†I felt Izzdarrak stiffen behind me. I reached back and took his hand in mine. “Later after Izzdarrak had convinced the druid to leave his wife came and propositioned Izzdarrak in the same manner and I was forced to persuade her to leave. When we awoke this morning I felt it would be better if Izzdarrak and I ate away from them so as to avoid any potential awkwardness.†Wandathana just stared at me and then at Izzdarrak as if to see if I was joking. I rolled my eyes thinking “I wish I wasâ€. She then looked back at me and said “I'm sorry Layla I had no idea.†“No you didn’t†I then shook my head saying “forget about it. Let’s get going we have some orcs to kill.†I then left making my way toward the river Izzdarrak following close behind “I didn’t want you hurting her Izzdarrak because her words were ignorant she didn’t know what she was talking about also we need her what if you get hurt? I'm no healer I won’t be able to heal you.†“Don’t worry about me Mistress I can take care of myself and that’s what healing potions are for.†“True, but I can’t not worry about you that my friend is impossible.†I then noticed he had stopped walking I looked back at him and with a raised brow I said “What is it?†he stood there staring at me for a moment and then said “Nothing Mistress†after a while we came back to the river it was barricaded by logs. Luckily since the river was frozen we were able to dislodge them rather easily. On the other side was of course more orcs. We fought through them and then followed the river for another couple of hours until we came upon what once was the small logging village of Valintara.

It was completely destroyed except for the mill and one lone house on the outskirts of the village. Then before I had time to more than think “I wonder why they left that house standing†we were ambushed by another group of orcs. I had just gotten out my sword and dagger when there was a blinding flash of light. I stumbled backward un-able to see even after the light had faded. I then heard a woman’s voice shout “By the moon maidens good grace what is going on here?†I then heard a thump near by and something warm and wet hit my cheek. I began to panic wondering where Izzdarrak was and if he was ok. Something then knocked me over into the snow and there was a series of crashes of steel on steel and steel on flesh and then silence. I then heard a familiar voice and felt a familiar touch on my skin. “Mistress are you ok?†“Izzdarrak?†I said slowly “Yes it’s me I'm here don’t worry†I reached up to him touching his face and I said “I can’t see†he held my hand to his face with his own and said “I know I can’t either†“Then how?†I felt him smile and say “If you had grown up in the Underdark like me you’d be able to function with out sight.†I felt the smile slip off his face and he said “But then if you had you probably wouldn’t be my Mistress anymore†I then heard footsteps I felt Izzdarrak turn around and heard him snarl. I then heard Wandathana say “Calm down. What’s wrong with Layla?†“Light blindness.†I answered “I can’t see it should fade eventually but there’s a potion in my bag that should help. It’s in a silver-blue bottle, round and kind of gritty to the touch.†“Right†she replied and began digging through my bag and soon enough she found the bottle I had described and handed it to me. I took it feeling the bottle to make sure it was the right one. When I was assured it was I popped it open and took a sip my vision returning almost instantly. I then handed it to Izzdarrak and he took a drink as well. The others looked at Izzdarrak surprised that he had lost his vision as well when they had noticed no difference. A human woman then walked over and said “Hello are you all well if you need healing I am happy to help.†I looked up at her and Leohorn said “No thank you Selûnite. I think we are all pretty much un-harmed.†The priestess then looked down at Izzdarrak and me and said “I'm sorry about the flash I didn’t mean to blind you.†Izzdarrak didn’t answer but edged closer to me in case the priestess proved a threat. I said “Don’t worry about it things happen and…†I trailed off noticing a rather deep wound in Izzdarrak’s shoulder. I gasped and cried out “You’re hurt!†I then glared at Leohorn saying “You call this all right?!†I ignored his response if he gave one scrambling over to my bag to find a healing potion. The Selûnite said “Do not fret milady I can heal him.†Izzdarrak’s eyes narrowed he didn’t really trust other people besides me especially not priestesses. I looked over at her bag still in hand when I saw something slivery in the snow. I dropped my bag and went over and picked it up and I recognized it as Pyrwae’s holy symbol of Eilistraee a silver bastard sword outlined against a silver moon with silvery filaments on a fine mithril chain. How had it gotten into my bag? I decided to think on this later I crawled over to Izzdarrak and held it close to his wound a slivery light began to emanate for the holy symbol and the wound healed it self in seconds. The Selûnite priestess then said “Ah I did not realize you were a Dark Lady. My apologies.†I then said “I'm not. Well I follow Lady Silverhair but I'm not one of her priestesses like my mother and sister. This is my sister’s holy symbol and I don’t know how it got in my bag.†“Perhaps she put in there to look after you and keep you safe†said the priestess. “I guess, anyway†I said sliding it around my neck “I should keep it safe Phyrwae would be rather upset if something were to happen to it.†Izzdarrak moved his shoulder about and said “Thank you mistress†“Anytime.†He then helped me repack my bag and I heard the priestess asking the others if they had seen which way a troll had gone he escaped with her sword. Izzdarrak snorted and said “And we were the blind ones†I tried and failed to suppress a giggle. He grinned at me and handed me yet another thing to be packed away that Wandathana had removed while looking for the light blindness antidote. I took it and tucked it away in my pack. I then pulled out a spare bottle of the potion and handed it to Izzdarrak saying “Here take this it’s my spare but I want you to have it.†he took the bottle saying softly “Thank you Mistress you are much too good to this slave.†I stroked his cheek saying “Am not. If anything I feel like I'm lagging behind you and you’re many kindnesses to me.†he shook his head but didn’t say anything.

When we rejoined the others they had decided to help the priestess recover her sword. I found it funny that I hadn’t been asked my opinion since I was supposed to be leading this expedition nor Izzdarrak since he would probably be doing most of the fighting. But whatever once either Leohorn or Wandathana had their mind set on something it was next to impossible to get them to change their mind. We then journeyed into the town proper everything had been destroyed. After we passed about the sixth ruined house a woman approached saying “Please come no further or the orcs say they will kill the rest of the townsfolk.†“And he thinks we care about their lives. Well do we Mistress?†I nodded “We do we should help them if we can. What is your name miss?†“Thank you milady my name is Alyssa. The rest of the villagers are being held at the mill. The way has been shut though so you’ll have to open it. You’ll need to sneak past the orcs to open the gate.†“Very well†I said “I’ll be back shortly†I then turned to go when I heard Izzdarrak following me I turned and said “You can’t come with me†“Why not?†he asked “Because you can hardly sneak about in full plate mail.†“Well I'm not letting you go alone†I smiled warmly at him. “That’s sweet Izzdarrak but I have to go alone don’t worry I’ll be back soon. I promise.†He threw Alyssa a dirty look and then said me “Alright I’ll be waiting.†“And be careful†he added in an undertone. I then snuck off into the shadows. I made my way past the orcs and toward the gate wheel. I turned it slowly once I reached it luckily it didn’t creak I sent a quick silent thanks to Tymora for that. I then snuck away before they knew what I’d done. When I got back I noticed Izzdarrak pacing back and forth nervously. I couldn’t help but smile I liked that he worried about me but at the same time I didn’t like seeing him so on edge. I heard Darthana say that he needed to relax and Wandathana say not to worry and I also heard Leohorn chime in saying that if I was anything like my father I could take care of myself easily. Izzdarrak ignored them all, his pace only increasing. I slipped up next to him and whispered “Miss me†he turned looking directly at me for a moment and then said softly “Yesâ€. My whole face brightened and I said “I missed you too.†Seemingly unsure how to respond to this he backed away saying “We should get goingâ€. I nodded and then said to the others “Alright let’s go and free those villagers.â€

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Chapter 4

We made are way through the gate I had just opened. The orcs their were surprised by our arrival which of course worked to our advantage we took out almost half before they knew what was going on with a well place fireball. After that we took out the rest rather easily while they were scrambling about. When all was said and done I went about looting the corpses. I found mostly gold but also a couple of healing potions and a gem or two. When I was finished I said to Wandathana “You and Leohorn best go and release the villagers Izzdarrak and I will stay here wouldn’t want to scare them more then they already are.†Wandathana nodded and she and the others went to free them. Izzdarrak looked off into the distance saying “Why do you care about these humans? They would probably kill you with out a second thought if the situation were reversed. Surfacers don’t trust drow†“I did it because it was the right thing to do. I know most surfacers don’t trust our kind and with good reason for how most of them act but I’d like to change that show the world we’re not all bad.†Izzdarrak gave a derisive snort and said “The day drow aren’t feared and reviled is the day I stop sleeping with one eye open.†I gave him a sad look saying “Izzdarrak…†“Forget it mistress.†Wandathana then came over and said “Well we set them free but told them to wait here until we got rid of the rest of the orcs.†I nodded and said “I guess we should probably go and do that now and go find that priestess’ sword. By the goddess I think I'm going to be sore after this.†Leohorn then said “No use complaining lass it’s something that’s got to be done.†“Yea and it’ll probably be quite fun to!†said Darthana. I rolled my eyes at her and said “Well let’s get goingâ€

I stopped breathing heavily. The others were slumped against the walls of the cave. We had just fought our way though the orc camp and were all rather exhausted. Leohorn stood up first saying all right come on were not done here. I groaned and slumped to the ground saying “stop acting so tough. I know you have to be as tried as the rest of us and if your not you’re not human. Let’s take a break.†Leohorn grumbled and sat down. Izzdarrak came and stood next to me. I reached up and grabbed his hand tugging on it I said “sit down I’m sure you need a brake as much as any of us.†he shook his head saying “No, I’m fine mistress don’t worry about me.†I pouted saying “Fine if you don’t want to sit by me then don’t.†I suppressed a smirk knowing this would get him to sit down. He looked down at me and said “That’s not what I meant and you know it.†I looked away still pouting when I heard him sit down next to me. I grinned and turned back to him. He gave a bit of a suspicious smile and said “You’re rather manipulative mistress and not in a way I am use to it’s in a good way if such a thing is possible†I flipped my hair and flashed him an appreciative smile then got out my water bottle and some dried rations. Proffering some to him I said “Hungry?â€

“Ha, you think you can defeat me?†said the troll “Now I have the moon priestess’ blade nothing can hurt me.†“You’re a fool.†I said “We have many weapons and I’ll use everyone if I have to.†the troll sneered and then said “Minions attackâ€

Darthana then let fire a lighting bolt which killed four out of the dozen orcs and the rest were dealt with fairly easily with both blade and spell. The troll backed up against the wall suddenly panicking. I walked toward him saying “Tell me who you are working for and we might just let you go.†The troll then said “Can’t she kill me.†“We’ll kill you troll. It sounds like you better pick your poison.†Said Izzdarrak The trolls eyes darted around the cave obviously looking for a way out seeing none he in took a breath and said “She be drow lady like you but older she tell me…†the troll then stopped his voice trailing off in a gurgle. His eyes glazed and a new voice a woman’s emanated from the troll. It laughed manically then silence and the troll fell to the ground and burst into flames. I stared at the troll for a moment dumbstruck. Izzdarrak came and placed a hand on my shoulder saying nothing. I then sort of mentally shook myself and said “Well then I guess he wasn’t lying. Who was this older drow woman you think?†“I don’t know but we should be wary and search the troll’s belongings for clues.†Said Izzdarrak. I nodded saying “Right let’s do that.†Izzdarrak and I then searched through the troll’s belongings. Among them we found a bunch of junk, the moon priestess’ blade and a note that said “Do not kill Iymthraedia’s eldest daughter. I want the pleasure of doing that myself. I just want you to keep her distracted long enough for me to get ready. Contact G'eldjss if you are unable to follow these simple orders and he will carry them out.†A map then followed which I assume was the way to this G'eldjss. The letter was then signed Burkiira of house Auvryafin along with a drow house insignia. I gaped at the letter wondering why. I wondered who this woman was what she had against my mother and thinking I had seen the insignia somewhere before though I couldn’t place where. Izzdarrak took the letter from me saying “Vengeance most likely or perhaps you’re parents escape from the Underdark is finally catching up with them.†My shoulders slumped I had never even considered that this would happen. I knew on some level I guess that it could happen but I just never thought it would. Izzdarrak squeezed my shoulder. I then turned hugging him feeling scared more for my mother then myself. He stood quite still unsure of what to do. He then tentatively wrapped his arms around me and I snuggled closer murmuring in drow “I'm scared Izzdarrak.†His grip tightened and he said also in drow “Don’t worry I’ll protect you Mistress.†I smiled saying “I know. But I'm more scared for my mother.†“I…I am sorry Mistress but surely she can take care of herself if she was able to escape the Underdark.†“That was a long time ago though more than a century. What if…?†Izzdarrak placed a finger to my lips saying “No what ifs Mistress. Your mother will be fine. I'm sure of it, especially if she’s anything like you.†I smiled meekly and said “Thank you.†“Of course Mistress and we can go take care of this G’eldjss and Burkiira if you want I would not want you to be ill at ease.†I nodded but said “We need to tell Ellamin that the orcs are gone first.†“Of course Mistress.â€

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Chapter 5

We then went and told Alyssa that her village was free we had gotten rid of the orcs and freed her fellow villagers. She thanked us profusely and I told it was nothing. We then returned to the Selûnite and she gave us a rather lot of gold for retrieving her sword and I thanked her for it. “No thank you†she said “This blade is very dear to me†I nodded saying “Don’t worry about and may the moon bless you†I smirked at this for it had a bit of a double meaning for we both worshiped goddesses of the moon. She smirked as well saying “And you farewell†she was then gone in another flash of light though not as bright this time thankfully. “Well†I said “I don’t know about you all but I think we should make camp now I'm tried†I looked about and said “How about in that house there it’s the only one around here that’s not burned down.†The others looked a bit uneasy and I cried out “Oh come on would you rather camp out here in the snow?!†I then made my way into the abandoned house I was going to sleep in there even if the others weren’t. For I’d rather not wake up cold and wet from lying in the snow. If didn’t have to. The others then followed me into the house. It was one room completely empty except for a fireplace on the far side of the room. I went over to it and started a fire luckily there was firewood still in there so we didn’t have to go get any. Leohorn seeing this said “Good you’re starting a fire it is your night to cook after all.†“I know. I know. Don’t worry I couldn’t sleep a couple of nights ago so I went hunting. I’ve got fresh meat and some rice to cook it with.†“You should have woke me Mistress†said Izzdarrak “I could have helped you.†I blushed not exactly sure what he meant by that. “No that’s okay Izzdarrak I didn’t want to disturb you. After all you get so little sleep after all.†“Of course Mistress.†He said backing away. I could be mistaken but there seemed be a look of confusion and disappointment in his eyes. Leohorn then said “Well get on with it I'm starving.†Tearing my eyes away from Izzdarrak I nodded I got a cooking pan out and cut up the meat with my dagger and threw it into the pan over the fire it sizzled as it hit. After the meat was cooked through I added some water and rice. Rice was rather exotic for the north but it kept well and had a pleasant taste so I had brought a substantial amount. Izzdarrak came over and sat down next to me. I smiled at him and he nodded. I then said grinning “Did you come over to keep my company or did you just want the first helping?†he stared at me for a moment obviously un-sure how to answer then said slowly “I came over because I wanted to sit next you but…†his stomach gave a loud rumble. I laughed lightly saying “You’re hungry too right?†he flushed slightly saying “Well yes†still smiling I scooped out some for him saying “Well you can tell me if it’s any good then but I'm really not much of a cook.†“It smells delicious†he said taking the plate from me. “Thank you†I felt myself blushing a bit. He smirked slightly at me saying “You’re welcome†he then took a bite and I asked “Well is it any good?†“See for yourself†he fed me some. I was surprised both that he would do this and that my meal was actually pretty good. “Surprised, Mistress?†I nodded “I'm not and I’d like to go with you next time you go hunting. I don’t want you out there alone.†I smiled swallowing and said “Sure you can go with me. I just hope you can keep up!†he grinned saying “I think I’ll be able to do that.†I giggled feeling particularly girlish. Leohorn then came over and got himself something to eat. I then I got myself some and scooted over next to Izzdarrak out of the way so the others could get some. When everyone was finished I gathered up the plates and placed them in a bucket to be washed. As I did so I thought I should have asked Elkantar to enchant the dishes to wash themselves that would be a time saver. Though at least I had thought to ask him to enchant the bucket to shrink at a command word, candy, it was good word after all not one that was going to be said frequently in this environment. Izzdarrak then came over and began drying the dishes I had cleaned I smiled at him and said “Thank you.†he nodded not saying a thing. Once we had finished I picked up the bucket and went to dump the water outside Izzdarrak followed. As we left I heard Leohorn say “Inseparable those two aren’t they?†I blushed and even more so when I heard Wandathana say “I think it’s sweet.†“Sweet?! What am I going to tell Kalandan if she comes back from this journey not a maiden anymore? He’ll have my hide!†this was the absolute limit I was sure you could see me blushing now even if with the benefit of the dark and my ebony skin. I dropped the bucket and ran away unable to listen anymore. I heard Izzdarrak following me and after I had been running for a while when I quickly sat down at the base of a tree. I hugged my knees my face still burning. I looked up as I heard Izzdarrak coming he gave me a puzzled look and said “What’s wrong? Is it something the paladin said?†I nodded looking away. “Do you want me to go and silence him?†despite myself I felt my lips curve up into a smile. “No†I said shaking my head “Thank you though.†“Of course mistress.†Changing the subject I said “Well I guess you can keep up with me pretty well I had my doubts with all that metal you’re wearing.†“I told you I could.†“That you did. Why did you want to come with me anyway? You don’t seem like a hunter after all.†“As I said I don’t want you to be out there alone. Besides I heard that followers of Eilistraee hunt naked. How are you going to protect yourself like that?†he said causally but I was almost sure he was as curious as he was worried “I take my sword and it’s only during The High Hunt that clerics go naked. I'm not a cleric though I was raised by one so I tend to go nude as well with my mother and sisters.†“I see and when is this High Hunt.†I sighed looking away “It is to be performed once a season and with spring just starting my mother probably won’t perform it until somewhere around the equinox. I won’t be back in time to participate. It’ll be the first time I’ve missed it since I was a girl.†This kind of depressed me and he said “I'm sorry mistress. Maybe I could help you perform it here.†My head snapped up to him and I asked “Why would you do that? You’re not a follower of the Dark Maiden if I recall correctly.†“I'm not but I like to see you happy Mistress.†I suddenly gave a shiver whether it was his comment or I was just starting to feel the snow I was sitting on I knew not. He seemed to think it was the latter and said “Mistress we should really get you back inside near the fire. I’ll ensure the paladin stays quiet if that’s what it takes but I don’t want you catching a chill.†He then pulled me to my feet and for a second I mouthed wordlessly at his devotion to my well being and then I said “Izzdarrak?†“Yes Mistress?†“I like it when you’re happy too.†He looked away saying softly “Thank you Mistress.†“You’re welcome†We then walked back to the cabin. I bent and picked up the bucket I had dropped and said softly “Candy†the bucket began to shrink until it was the size of thimble. Izzdarrak said “That’s rather convenient.†I nodded saying “My brother Elkantar enchanted it for me as well as a bunch of other things we both thought would be a good idea.†“I see well maybe you could show them to me later.†Smiling I replied “I’d like that†“As would I†we then went into the cabin and back to our place by the fire. It was Izzdarrak’s turn to watch first and I sat next to him as the others went sleep. “Aren’t you tried Mistress?†“No†I lied trying to stifle a yawn. He raised an eyebrow at me and said “Alright but you should still get to sleep sometime soon.†“I’ll go if you want me to†I said softly getting up. He sighed taking my hand he pulled me back saying “Don’t go. Why do you do that?†“Do what?†I said feigning ignorance “You know what.†I gave a bit of an impish grin and said “Because†“Because why?†he prompted edging closer. I looked down at our hands and said “because I… I want to make sure you’re with me because you want to be and because you feel like you have to be.†“Mistress I…†he fell short as I looked up and just stared at me. “I will always be here for you Mistress.†I smiled saying “Thank you Izzdarrak†I gently squeezed his hand and said “I’ll always be there for you too.†He gave me a look that was somewhere between confusion and affection and then shook his head saying nothing. We then sat there in companionable silence for the next hour or so I could feel how tense he was and I said “You really need to relax more. Next time I'm able to get you out of that plate mail I'm going to give you a massage.†I then flushed realizing the implications and I continued “I mean that…†I then noticed he was actually chuckling which made me blush even more and he said “Ah Mistress you constantly amuse and puzzle me. I think I would like a massage if you are offering my watch is almost over. But be warned it may take a while. After all I always have to be on guard for you and for me.†I stared at him a bit stunned and then deciding not to question his sudden lightheartedness I said “Yes! I would like that too. You know I…I like to make you happy.†He seemed to recoil from me for the briefest instant and then it was gone just as quickly like I might have imagined it though I knew I hadn’t. He then said softly “I like to make you happy too Mistress.†I smiled at him a bit sadly hoping that some day he would be able to just take my kindness with out thinking I had some ulterior motive. Soon after Izzdarrak went and woke Maronna for her watch. We then retried to our bedrolls where I began awkwardly helping him remove his plate mail. I looked up at him every now and then smiling weakly. To which he gave a bit of a smirk. When all the plate was finally off he then quickly removed my own armor in such a manor that it was obvious he had done this many times before. I again was unsure how to feel about this. I stood there in my tunic trying to sort it out when I heard him say “Are you alright Mistress?†I looked up at him and smiled as soon as I saw his face saying “Just fine. Now lie down and I’ll give you that massage.†He grinned and said “Of course†he then lied down and I sat next to him and began to massage his back and I could immediately tell he was right. There was such rigid tension in him. I pressed down on particularly tough spot and before I knew I was actually sitting on his back as I continued my ministrations. I smiled a bit and felt the overwhelming urge to lean down and kiss him but I restrained myself. I then heard a pop and he let out a groan my hands flew up and I said anxiously “I didn’t hurt you did I?†I felt him chuckling beneath me and he said “No quite the opposite Mistress. It felt good.†“I'm…I'm glad†I stammered. I then timidly resumed massaging his back. During which I heard and felt several more pops and it startled me each time. To which he chuckled at making me blush. When I finished he was dozing peacefully. I smiled happy that I could give him some measure of peace. I then began to get up and then like the wind he had rolled on to his back and was holding my hands. I was trapped and wasn’t going anywhere. I smiled saying “I thought you were asleep?†grinning back he said “I never sleep too deeply Mistress.†I frowned and said “You should try to get a good nights sleep it would probably do you some good.†He frowned back at me and said “I don’t think so. I’d rather not wake up with a knife in my back.†I pouted saying “You know I’d never let that happen.†He sighed saying “I know and but I don’t want anything to happen to you either. That’s why I won’t stop sleeping lightly. You never know who you can trust though I'm fairly certain I can trust you Mistress.†He kissed my hand lightly. My eyes sparkled mischievously and I said “Only fairly?†he rolled his eyes saying “You’re the first person I have ever trusted even slightly isn’t that enough?†“Oh well when you put it like that then of course it is.†I gave a slight giggle and he smiled. He then said “Well we should probably be getting to sleep unless you wish me to return the favor. I smiled and replied “I’d like that but we should get to sleep afterward. We have to make our way back to Caer-Divinal.†“Of course Mistress but I have to warn you I'm not all that good at being quick.†I felt the color rise in my cheeks as I caught his double entendre. He laughed a true genuine laugh and I loved the sound of it. I smiled saying “I'm glad you are in such a good mood. Please tell me what has put you in such a state and I’ll make sure it happens again and again.†“Nothing but your company beautiful Mistress.†I smiled fondly and rolled off of him. He then proceeded to gently massage me and I could tell he had gotten better at putting heart into it as I had called it earlier and I smiled contentedly. It was very relaxing and I let out some happy sighs and I must have drifted of to sleep because the next thing I remember was Wandathana waking to tell me it was my turn to watch. “What Izzdarrak?†I said “No it’s Wandathana it’s your turn to watch.†I sat up blearily and shook my head “Alright I'm up.†I yawned and rubbed my eyes. I looked around confused at first then realizing I must have fallen asleep. I looked over at Izzdarrak he was asleep though his eyes were twitching a bit under their lids and the blanket had fallen from his shoulders. I reached over and tugged it back up over his shoulder smiling as I pushed a stray lock of hair out of his face. Wandathana said “You love him don’t you?†I blushed saying “I well that is.†She shook her head chuckling “You don’t have to say anything.†She then went back to her own bedroll still chuckling. I sat up quickly becoming alert I could hear Izzdarrak’s voice saying "The foolish and unwary find waiting death." I smiled over at him. My watch was quiet and uneventful dawn was approaching near the end and I took a tiny sip of my light blindness potion. I found it eased the discomfort of the coming daylight. I turned to tell Izzdarrak of this only to find him right behind me. I smiled and he looked away saying “Good morning Mistress.†“Morning†I then held up my potion saying “Here take a sip it’ll lessen the pain of daylight for you.†He took it and after glancing at it and then me again he took a small sip and handed it back to me. He then turned and walked back to his bedroll packing up. I followed and said “Would you like me to help you put your plate back on.†he shook his head saying oddly formally “No thank you Mistress.†I laid a hand on his shoulder saying “Izzdarrak is something wrong because you know you can talk to me.†he flinched away a look almost akin to fear in eyes. His eyes locked with mine for a moment and seeing the look of concern on my face he turned away running his fingers through his hair clearing distressed. “Why? Why do you do this to me?! Fill me with such strong baffling emotions I’ve never felt before. And why do you make all the worse by†he glanced back at me “by looking at me like that?!†My face fell. “I'm sorry Izzdarrak. Sorry for anything I’ve done to cause you pain. I thought… I thought I was helping you. Obviously I was wrong. I’ll leave you be if that’s what you want.†I looked away I could feel tears forming in my eyes but I kept them at bay. “Of course that’s not what I want. Mistress I don’t know what to think about you. But I do know I never want you out of my sight because it makes me incredibly nervous when you are.†I was touched by his words and this only seemed to bring even more tears to my eyes and I felt a couple trickle out. He came over and wiped them away saying “Please don’t cry Mistress I can’t stand it.†I gave him a watery smile and said “I'm sorry and please don’t worry I would never betray you ever or hurt you in anyway.†He looked at me rather shocked struck dumb as it were and I said slowly “That’s what you’re scared about right? You think I'm just toying with you. That I'm pulling you along until I don’t know someone better comes along or until you served my purpose or something like that and I just want to tell you that’s not it. I just like spending time with you, being close to you.†“I'm beginning to believe that to be true though every fiber of my being tells me it’s not possible.†I took up his hand and said “Please believe it Izzdarrak. This is the only thing I ask of you not an order more a plea.†He looked down at joined hands and opened his mouth to say something but closed it as he noticed the others getting up. I noticed this as well and said “We can talk later†he gave me a faint smile saying “So fond of this talking you surfacers are.†I then kissed his cheek not even caring if the others saw. Seeing this Leohorn said “No need to ask what you two were up to last night.†I rolled my eyes saying nothing and Izzdarrak glared at him. We then helped each other into our armor and ate breakfast. I then told the others we were to go back to Caer-Divinal and inform Ellamin and Horamros that Valintara was safe.

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Chapter 6

The journey back to Caer-Divinal seemed to take less time then it took to get there. Before I knew it we were back in town and as soon as I stepped through those town gates I took a deep breath and said “It’s good to be back in town. Once we are done talking to Ellamin and Horamros I suggest we go to the inn for a real meal and bed.†“I agree!†Darhana cried. Izzdarrak frowned saying “I don’t like resting at an inn because it’s harder for me to protect you when I can’t see you.†he then mumbled to himself “Though sleeping out in the open does make me feel vulnerable.†I walked over and gave him hug grinning “You’re so sweet you know that?†he sighed saying “So you keep telling me.†“I know but I can’t help it when you continually do such sweet things and don’t worry about sleeping out in the open you know I would never let anything happen to you.†“Of course Mistress.†I then took him by the hand saying “Let’s get going.†We then made our way to Ellamin’s. Seeing us come in he nodded and said “Good to see you back and in one piece no less.†“Yes I nodded Valintara is safe. We’ve cleared out the orcs and the troll who commanded them.†“I see did you find out why they were there?†“Yes.†I said slowly “It seems to have something to do with my family and I.†he seemed to expect further explanation when it was obvious I wasn’t going to give one he said “Well good luck with that. Horamros will probably want a full report.†I refrained from rolling my eyes and said “Very well. We shall go to him immediately.†As we walked to Horamros’s home I walked over to Izzdarrak and picked up his hand and stared at it for a moment and then said almost unconsciously “Why am I always the one who has initiate contact?†“Yea why is that Izzdarrak?†jibed Wandathana. Izzdarrak threw her a harsh glare which only made her grin broader. He then took up my other hand and said “Mistress I have no idea what to expect from you. You are a complete and utter mystery to me. So forgive me if I fail to anticipate your wishes.†I smiled sweetly at him and said “You know I find you difficult to read as well. One moment…†I then noticed the others were listening in rather intently so I continued “How about we continue this conversation somewhere more private.†He nodded saying “Of course Mistress.â€

“Greetings Lord Horamros I have come to announce that Valintara is free of orcs and if you wouldn’t mind giving us our pay we’ll tell you all the details.†I looked over at Leohorn and said “Well Leohorn will he’s more experienced at giving battle summations.†“Right here you are†he handed me a bag of gold. Izzdarrak took the bag from my hands took out a piece and bit down on it to assure its authenticity. Horamros seemed offended by the implication. Izzdarrak either didn’t notice or didn’t care. We then left on a walk while Leohorn and Wandathana gave a report on clearing the village and our findings. As we walked Izzdarrak was one who took my hand I smiled at him. He smiled back weakly and said “What was it you wanted to say?†“I wanted to say that you’re just as much of a mystery to me as I am to you. One moment we’ll be getting along fine and the next you’ll shy away from me and all I can think is what have I done wrong?†“Mistress… Layla you have done nothing wrong. I'm just a fool and even though you’ve shown me nothing but kindness I still at some level expect you to act like a matron mother.†“Don’t be so hard on yourself I'm sure it would be hard to get over such a thing.†He looked up into my eyes and said “You’re defiantly not a matron mother. Though I think a part of me would have been more comfortable if you had been. Change such a drastic change frightens me Layla and I'm not a man who is easily frightened.†“I know, but I think we’ve come to a milestone if you’re finally calling me by my name. We’ll get through this I believe in you.†he smirked and said “Thank you Mistress.†I frowned opening my mouth to object when I noticed he was chuckling. “And I don’t get the concept of teasing.†I grinned remembering our first visit to the druids’ home.

We arrived at the inn after the others. Our walk must have been longer than I thought. We and sat down a serving girl bringing us a bowl of hot stew and bread. And of course she eyed Izzdarrak appreciatively. I gave her an absolute murderous glare. I was really getting quite tried of this but I knew it wouldn’t stop any time soon. After all he was incredibly good looking. The serving girl quickly turned and ran away at my glare. Izzdarrak chuckled saying “I quite enjoy that you know?†“What?!†I practically shrieked “You actually enjoy attentions from tavern wenches like that?! Why I… I†Izzdarrak cut me off placing a finger to my lips saying “No I do not but I do enjoy your reaction to their attentions. Making them scurry off with a terrible glare. It’s quite pleasing to me Layla.†I felt all the anger draining out of me and I simply said “Oh†he laughed softly teasing “Such hostilities. Do I really mean that much to you?†I looked down blushing and said “You know you do and Izzdarrak?†“Yes Layla?†“I rather like it when you get jealous over me too.†He grinned saying “Well then I guess we’ll be doing a lot of pleasing each other than.†I looked up and felt myself smile and flush deeper as I saw a particular gleam in his eye. He smirked saying “Did I ever tell you how attractive you are when you’re flustered?†my smile widened and I said “Yes, I believe so.â€

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Chapter 7

I woke up to a pounding on my door. I shook my head wondering what in the hells was going on. I looked out the window it was still dark. The pounding became more insistent. “Alright, alright I'm coming already.†I slipped on my robe and walked to the door opening it. It was Izzdarrak dressed in nothing but his small clothes and he looked out of his mind but he relaxed some when he saw me saying “You’re safe. I’ve never been much for the gods but I’ll thank every last one of them for this.†He slumped a bit and I could tell he had been really worried. I took his hand saying “Hush I'm just fine why wouldn’t I be?†he shook his head saying “It had been just a dream of course but it… it had felt so real.†He was almost trembling. I could see it was taking all his self-control not to tremble like a leaf on a tree. I wrapped my arms around him leading him inside my room and said “Come here sit down everything’s fine I'm safe you’re safe. Please tell of this dream it may do you some good.†We then sat down on my bed.†He rested his head on my shoulder and began “It was so real Layla we were in a cave fighting some drow male. I had just landed what I thought was a killing blow and as he fell to the ground you walked over to me smiling the way you always do when you look at me. When the man I thought I had just killed jumped up and stabbed you in the back. I could see the light in your beautiful eyes going dark. I ran over beheading the man. I pulled the dagger from your back and called for Wandathana but she was no where in sight nor was Leohorn or any of our other companions. I looked down at you and you smiled saying “I'm just glad you’re alright.†Then you died. You died Layla and there was nothing I could do to stop it!†then despite his self-control he gave a violent shiver. “When I woke up I ran over here. I had to make sure you were alright.†I hugged him tightly to me saying “It’s alright it was just a dream. I'm perfectly fine.†He clung to me as if his life depended on it saying “I’ve never been so terrified in my entire life. What’s happening to me Layla?†I thought the same thing. A single word bubbled to the surface of my mind love. “I think you love me Izzdarrak and I'm pretty sure I love you too. You really mean a lot to me more than anyone else ever has and if I had had such a dream only our roles were reversed. It would terrify me just as deeply†he looked up at me and said softly “I’ve never been in love.†“Nor have I Izzdarrak nor have I. Why… why don’t you just stay here for the rest of the evening? I doubt you want to be alone at such a time.†He nodded saying “I’d like that. I like you being close to me Layla.†“I like being close to you too Izzdarrak.†I stroked his cheek softly. We then laid down him holding me close and he murmured “Goodnight Laelafay†“Goodnight Izzdarrak.†I replied.

The next morning when I woke up I was surprised to see Izzdarrak’s arms wrapped tightly around my waist. I had thought it had been some sort of terribly beautiful dream. I turned my head to see him sleeping peacefully. All his worries seemed to have melted away replaced by serene expression I’d never seen in him before. I rolled over to get a better look at him and his eyes snapped open. “Good morning†he said softly “and to you†I said smiling “Did you sleep better after our talk?†“Yes a lot better then I think I ever have if truth be told.†For some unexplainable reason I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks. He pulled me closer continuing “I think it most likely has something to do with you. I wouldn’t mind sleeping next to you again.†I smiled saying “I wouldn’t mind that either to be honest.†He grinned saying “Here let me help you dress.†“You like helping me dress don’t you†“Yes†he said “but I think I’d like helping you undress a lot more.†Completely caught off guard by this I stumbled around a bit trying to find my tongue and then said bashfully “Maybe later†he chuckled lightly and said “of course Mistress†He then grabbed my tunic and leggings and help me dress his hands lingering here and there. I smiled taking his hands into mine I kissed them. He grinned back saying slowly “Usstan ssinssrigg dos.†My smile brightened and I replied “and I you†he pulled me close saying “I thought I’d try out. It feels right and makes me happy in a way I’ve never been before.†“It does feel right†I said. He then made to leave the room and I said “Wait a moment where do you think you’re going?†he stopped looking back with one raised snowy brow “I was going to go dress myself unless you wish me to walk about as such.†“No you don’t. I’ll go and get your things for you.†“Jealous Laelafay?†I threw my arms up saying “Of course I am! I have quite the jealous nature. You know†He grinned widely and said “That I do. Alright then I’ll stay here.†I nodded and left the room going next door and I collected up his things. When I left I heard Wandathana say “Layla!†I looked around and saw her running toward me. “Yes?†I replied “Did you spend the night in Izzdarrak’s room?†“No†I said “Then why were you in there?†I rose a snowy brow at her saying “Is that really any of your business?†“Well no but…†“I thought not†I said pushing past her and into my own room. “Who were you talking to Layla?†asked Izzdarrak “Wandathana she wanted to know why I was in your room.†“I see and what did you tell her?†“That it was none of her business.†“Is that so?†he questioned “Yes it is now come here and let me help you dress.†I then opened his pack pulling out his tunic and leggings, mail, greaves etc. “At your command my Mistress.†He then sauntered over in an almost arrogant way. I smiled at him and quickly pulled his tunic over his head.

When we arrived down stairs where the others were they were whispering among themselves. Seeing us Darhana giggled gestured toward us for the others to see. I rolled my eyes and we sat away from them. The innkeeper himself brought us our breakfast saying Shelia who I presume was the serving girl was too scared to do it herself. “Good.†I said rather venomously “Maybe that’ll teach her to keep her eyes to herself.†Izzdarrak grinned broadly at this. I smiled back at him and began to eat. About half way though our meal Leohorn came over furious saying “What’s this I hear about you two spending the night together?†I rolled my eyes and said “You been listening to Wandathana. Look she doesn’t know what she saw and it’s really none of her business or yours if it was as it appears to be.†“To hells it isn’t.†I narrowed my eyes saying “It isn’t. Who I choose to spend my time with is neither yours nor anyone else’s business. Now go back to Wandathana and tell her to quit spreading rumors it’s beneath her.†“It’s not just Wandathana. Maronna heard you doing things the day before we began our return to town.†I looked away saying “Again you are mistaken but I'm not going to explain myself to you. This conversation is over.†“Oh, no it’s not.†He said. I ignored him and resumed eating. “I'm supposed to be looking out for you and that includes not letting you fraternize with such scoundrels as him.†he said pointing at Izzdarrak. “Listen to me when I'm talking to you girl!†he tried to grab my arm. Big mistake Izzdarrak snatched his hand and held it in an iron grip eyes cold as ice as he snarled “Lay one hand on her and I’ll tear it off.†I smiled at him fondly at him. Leohorn glared at Izzdarrak and tried to free his hand but to no avail. Izzdarrak tightened his grip and Leohorn winced. Smiling evilly at this he continued “I believe the lady no longer wishes to speak with you. You best be on your way.†Izzdarrak then released Leohorn’s hand. Leohorn scowled walking back to the others.

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Chapter 8

We had been marching for three days and we had yet to find the lair of G’eldjss,

The drow the troll’s letter had spoken of. We had followed the map we found but the map had misrepresented how large the mountains were. It indicated the cave we were looking for was somewhere on the eastern end of the ridge yet due to the shear size of them that really wasn’t much help. I looked over at Izzdarrak he was scanning the area for possible dangers. I bit my lip and looked away. In those three days since we had left town and Izzdarrak and had become closer or so I thought. Not once had he tried to kiss me or approach me in anyway really except when he was protecting me of course. I was worried there was something wrong with me and when he wasn’t looking I was constantly checking my appearance and straightening myself up as best I could it didn’t seem to do any good though. I knew to the others I must be acting like a silly girl but I couldn’t help it vexed me terribly. I glanced back at him and this time my eye actually caught something behind him. It was the stone it was kind of misshapen from the rest the grain was different and it sort of stuck out at an odd angle. I walked over to it and placed my hand on the stone. “Layla what is it?†asked Izzdarrak “I think we just may have found our way in.†“You think?†“Yes look how the grain is different here and how it bulges out slightly.†I pressed my ear to the stone and knocked “It even sounds as if it might be hollow.†“Good eye but how are we going to get in?†just then Izzdarrak tackled me to the ground as a fireball flew past hitting the stone door. There was a resounding roar as the fireball hit the door blowing it to pieces. Izzdarrak looked over at Darhana snarling “Watch were you aim those things Laelafay could have been killed.†Darhana giggled saying “Sorry†He then looked down at me and said “You’re not hurt. Are you?†I shook my head saying “No I'm fine what about you?†“I'm fine don’t worry†he then helped me up. I looked into the hole Darhana’s fireball had made. It led into a long narrow tunnel. “Well so much for a stealthy approach that explosion was loud enough to wake the dead.†“Let’s hope not.†said Wandathana. Izzdarrak drew his duel bastard swords and entered the tunnel. I followed close behind dagger and short sword in hand.

We’d been walking for some time when we came upon a small chamber. Three drow men stood there, a mage and two warriors by the look of them, supposedly nonchalantly chatting. But I could see in their eyes they were on guard. They stood slightly tense hands never far from their weapons. I looked at Izzdarrak and he nodded I covered my dagger with the dispelling powder I had gotten from Elkantar briefly wondering why it didn’t dispel the magics of my dagger. I shook my head as there were more important things to think about. I took aim and threw it at the mage it struck true catching the man in the side of the neck. So much blood there was a literal fountain of crimson. The drow man fell to the ground clutching the wound in a fruitless effort to stop the flow. The other two men drew their swords looking around bewilderedly. As my dagger returned Izzdarrak gave an evil smile saying “Aren’t you going to let me have any fun Mistress?†“By all means have at it.†he then dove in and even though he was out numbered the others didn’t stand a chance. Quick as a snake he beheaded one of them he made to do so to the other but this one was quicker parrying his blow with own sword but Izzdarrak then brought around his second blade into the man’s side nearly cutting him in half and he collapsed to the floor. As Izzdarrak walked back over to me I couldn’t keep my eyes off one his blades. As he walked blood dripped off it like little tiny rubies, drip, drip, drip. I could feel the blood pounding in my ears. Seeing this he grinned wickedly and held up the blade in question saying “Thirsty Layla?†I looked up at him at bit embarrassed saying “Perhaps. We should go hunting after this.†I felt the overwhelming urge to run under Eilistraee’s moon with nothing but my sword and plunge it into the heart of my pray offering it up to the goddess, while then celebrating with song, dance and feast of my quarry. I licked my lips unconsciously. Izzdarrak’s grin broadened and he said “Of course Mistress whatever you desire.†There were few more guards on our way though the cavern and after a while we came upon a door it was locked and magically warded so I couldn’t pick it and Elkantar’s powder didn’t work on it either. I swore looking through the bars. It appeared to be a dungeon of some sort and I bet who ever was locked in there could tell us more about G’eldjss and maybe even Burkiira. But there was nothing to it but to move on perhaps we’d find some way to get past it later. At the end of the passage there was a flickering light and voices a man’s voice talking to a woman’s. “The troll has not reported in days mistress. I believe he has fallen what do you wish me to do?†“True, he has fallen. Iymthraedia’s whelp may have found out about this haven. If I were you I would prepare myself G’eldjss. Her and her companions may be on their way here.†“Fear not mistress I am better equipped then some troll to handle these nuisances.†“Let’s hope so. Do not fail me G’eldjss. You know what will happen to you if you do. I want her alive and brought to me so I can torment Iymthraedia with the slow painful death of the child she has worked so hard to protect.†“Of course mistress it will be my honor.†The light then disappeared to be replaced with a softer fainter glow. I gulped this woman was serious and I wondered yet again what mother could have done to set her off. But then again from what I had learned from both my parents and Izzdarrak one didn’t need to do much to anger someone in the Underdark enough to make them want kill you or your loved ones. I looked back at the others and mouthed “Get ready†Darhana and Wandathana nodded and began to quietly cast protective magics on the group. The rest of us readied our weapons. I slowly crept toward the corner. “Ah, come in dalhar, come in. No doubt you overheard the little conversation about you.†The drow man turned to face me he was dressed in mages robes and wore a mithril chain around his neck which hung that faintly familiar drow insignia. He also carried a sword and had a palpable aura of power around me. I had to admit I was slightly unnerved. The man grinned eyes dancing maliciously. “I am G’eldjss as you have no doubt figured out and you must be Laelafay first daughter of Iymthraedia.†“That I am. What do you want with me? And what do you want with my mother? And why is that insignia of yours so familiar?†“So many questions so little time. To answer you dalhar my mistress wants you so she can finally have vengeance against her dear sister for making her look the fool all those years ago before you were even born.†“Thought so†said Izzdarrak. G’eldjss’s eyes swiveled to Izzdarrak and he said “Ah you have a male do you dalhar? And just who might you be?†“Like it matters you won’t be alive long enough to remember.†G’eldjss smirked saying “The arrogance of youth how I remember it well.†He still seemed pretty arrogant to me. “Come now dalhar. I must take you to the mistress. Come and I’ll give your companions a quick death.†Izzdarrak stepped in front of me snarling “You’ll take her over my dead body iblith!†laughing evilly he said “That was the plan.†He then raised his blade and attacked. Izzdarrak parried his blow with a sweeping motion. Leohorn attacked from the side, Maronna fried her bow, while I slipped around to try and backstab him. Wandathana and Darhana chanting furiously and casting every spell they knew. Yet none of it seemed to have any effect he parried every attack and spells seemed to just be absorbed. I noticed the insignia around his neck glowed as the spells hit him. Realizing this I tried to be extra quiet sneaking up to take it. Whether he noticed me or he was getting tired of fighting two at once and trying to deflect Maronna’s arrows I don’t know but suddenly a ring of fire exploded from him knocking everyone backward. I flew back into a wall knocking the wind out of me and almost knocking me unconscious. I sat up shaking away the darkness closing in on the edges of my vision. I looked quickly around Darhana was unconscious, Wandathana was no where to be found, Izzdarrak had already gotten up and was crossing blades with G’eldjss again, Leohorn was trying to get up but seemed to have been injured from the fall, Maronna was up and shooting her bow at G’eldjss as well. So that left me I got up and charged jumping on G’eldjss’s back and ripping the insignia from his neck. He then threw me off and turning quickly he plunged his blade into my stomach. I let gasp more of surprise then of pain. I heard Izzdarrak cry “NO!†and he beheaded G’eldjss before he could even turn around. I gave a faint smile so the insignia had been giving him an edge. Izzdarrak then ran over to me dropping his blades he pulled me into his arms removing the blade saying “No, no, no, no, no, no, this is not happening.†He pressed down on my wound trying to get it to stop bleeding. It was no use though there was too much. He looked up into my eyes saying “You can’t die. Not you. Please.†I smiled faintly at him. I could feel the darkness fringing in upon my vision again. “I love you†I said softly in drow “and like in your dream I am glad at least you’re unhurt.†“Don’t say that!†he said panic stricken “Wandathana! Leohorn! Anyone please help!†he looked around helplessly. He then saw Phyrwae’s holy symbol peaking out of my tunic he grabbed it pressed it into my flesh hoping against hope that it would do something. Suddenly I could hear an almost familiar melodious voice saying in drow “It’s not yet your time dear one go back to the one who loves you.†“Mother?†I murmured. The voice laughed saying “Not quite go now sweet child.†I opened my eyes to see Izzdarrak looking over me almost pale enough to pass for a grey elf. As I blinked a single tear ran down his cheek. I reached up wiping it away saying “Please don’t cry beloved it breaks my heart.†A sudden ferocity entered his eyes and he crushed me to him kissing me passionately. I returned his kiss with equal if not greater passion. Maronna then came back into the room with Wandathana shouting “She is over here quick now I think she is dying!†Leohorn who was leaning on Maronna for support said “Dying from suffocation maybe.†“No really she was injured and there be so much blood everywhere.†Izzdarrak and I ignored them fully absorbed in each other. Wandathana then said “Well with that pressing matter out of the way let me look at your knee Leohorn.â€

When Izzdarrak finally pulled away from me I said “And I thought there might be something wrong me since you hadn’t tried to kiss me before. If a near death experience is what it takes maybe I’ll try doing it more often.†His eyes flashed with fear he opened his mouth to object and I cut him off with another mind blowing kiss. When we broke away again he said softly “I… I love you too and please don’t do anything like that again it was the most terrifying moment of my life and yes that’s including the dream.†He clung to me tightly as if afraid of losing me again. I smiled happily and hugged him back. He then helped me to my feet and I noticed the not only was the wound in my stomach gone there was no hole in armor, no blood on it either. I then took up Izzdarrak’s hands and turned them over back to front they were clean this puzzled me. “Something wrong my ssinssrigg†he said smiling softly. “Your hands they’re clean.†He raised one snowy brow at me saying “So they are and this disturbs you why?†“Do you not remember? You were pressing down on my wound to stop the blood flow they should be covered in my blood. Yet they are not. They are perfectly clean and my wound is not only gone there is no hole in my armor no blood on my clothes. Do you not you realize it my love? I think we have been touched by the goddess herself.†His eyes widened and he looked down at his hands and my armor with something close to amazement. He then reached over and picked up Phyrwae’s holy symbol and said “I guess she answered my prayer. I may never be a paladin like your father Layla but I’ll serve the Dark Maiden for giving you back to me.†I was stunned and said softly so softly it was almost inaudible “I heard a voice a woman’s voice pushing me back here to life to you when the darkness was closing in. You think…you think it was her?†Izzdarrak wrapped his arms around me saying “I don’t know and I don’t really care I'm just grateful you’re here with me now.†Smiling I said “Me tooâ€. I then noticed something glinting on the near by table it was a small brass key and I wondered what it was to. I noticed a small chest near by but I doubted that was what it was to. I then remembered that door I couldn’t get open. I reached over and pocketed it. Izzdarrak smirked saying “My little thief†I grinned back saying “True but he’s also dead it’s not like he can use anymore.†The lighthearted expression vanished from his face and he looked down glowering he kicked G’eldjss’s head across the floor. Darhana jumped out of the way and he snickered. I gave him a soft smile and then bent down and began picking open the chest. Soon enough the lock clicked open and checked for traps before actually opening the chest there wasn’t one surprisingly enough. The chest contained a various assortment of jewels rubies, sapphires, topazes, both blue and amber. Izzdarrak reached in and grabbed an amethyst and held in his palm for a moment and then said “You know what? I was wrong your eyes aren’t like amethysts. This is no where near as beautiful as your eyes.†I blushed and I heard Leohorn say “Oh pleaseâ€. I reached in the chest pulling out an aquamarine and holding it up to his face I said “You know I could say the same beloved.†He grinned taking my hand he said “I’m glad to hear that.†we then began emptying the chest pocketing the gems. When we got to the bottom there was another letter and another map. A particular line in the letter caught my attention “If you screw this up G’eldjss I may come and kill you myself instead of sending Ardulvrae to do the job.†It was signed by the same woman and had the same insignia as the medallion I held in my hand a spiders web soaked in what had to be blood. Leaning over my shoulder Izzdarrak took the map from the chest and studied it saying “I'm guessing this is a map to Burkiira’s lair how convenient.†“Yes quite†I said. Izzdarrak took up my hand. I smiled and said “Well let’s start looting the place.†He grinned and said kissing me “Of course my ssinssrigg who am I to stop you from satiating your curiosity? Just be careful Layla.†I smiled saying “You know I will and besides you’re always there to look after me.†He pulled me close saying “And I always will be†I kissed him upon the nose saying “And I’ll always be there to watch your back beloved.†we found quite a few things really some enchanted rings, some magic scrolls, and many other things beside. I then went to find that door again.

“Here it is!†I exclaimed after what felt like hours but I'm sure was really only a few minutes. I put the key into the lock twisting the door opened easily. Walking down the hall I noticed that most of the cells were either empty or had a corpse or even a skeleton in them. The last one was an exception. A drow man sat in the cell. Upon seeing me his eyes widened and he spoke in drow “Mistress Iymthraedia, Mistress Iymthraedia is that you?†I stopped nervous than slowly said “No. My name is Laelafay. Iymthraedia is my mother.†The man’s eyes narrowed in hate and he said “You! You’re the one mistress Burkiira is looking for and the reason I have to serve that wench.†I wondered what he meant by that last part. Izzdarrak stepped in front of me. He pulled the key from one of my belt pouches saying “Look if you want out of here alive you are going to answer some questions. Tell us everything you know about Burkiira and her plans.†“That’s not exactly a question†he sneered. “Don’t get smart with me.†snapped Izzdarrak “Wouldn’t dream of it.†he then proceeded to tell us that she was looking for me to get revenge on my mother. “We already know that anything else†snapped Izzdarrak “Like why?†the man snorted saying “Priestesses don’t need a reason.†Izzdarrak knew this but he also knew that Layla needed some sort of reason. “But if I had to guess.†The man continued “It’s probably due to what trouble Mistress Burkiira got into for backing Mistress Iymthraedia’s “scouting missionâ€.†Layla had heard this story countless times how her mother had tricked her own mother Matron Dirzala into thinking she was leaving to scout out a near by city her mother and the other matrons were thinking of going to war with. Dirzala didn’t like it but one of her mother’s sisters convinced her it was a good idea. Of course she didn’t do this but escaped to the surface with her father. I came to just as the man was finishing telling Izzdarrak the same story. “So Mistress Burkiira has been looking for Mistress Iymthraedia to make her pay for making her look like a fool. She got quite a few ideas having had little more than a century to plan it all.†The man said with a nasty grin. “Right and who is Ardulvrae?†said Izzdarrak. The man grinned nastily again saying “She is the best assassin in house Auvryafin. Some say in the whole city. She is also the daughter of mistress Burkiira. Though I don’t think her upbringing was as sweet and pampered as yours was Mistress.†He said snickering evilly leering at me. “I’ve answered all your questions now are you going to let me out or not?†“Hold your tongue!†Izzdarrak snapped. Turning to me he asked softly “Layla do you have anything to ask him?†I shook my head rather shaken up about this. Izzdarrak then opened the cell and said “Get out of here before we change our mind.†The man began walking away but he then quickly pulled out a hidden dagger and turned my heart his target. I brought up my own blade to block him when Izzdarrak knocked the small blade from his hand and then stabbed him in the heart. The drow man fell to the floor blood pooling around him. Izzdarrak then spat saying “Ssussun pholor dos!†I took up his hand saying “Come on my ssinssrigg let’s get going.â€

When we arrived back outside the moon was high and I breathed in deeply the fresh air. Izzdarrak wrapped his arms around my waist saying “You still want to go hunting?†I smiled replying “Only if you come with me.†he grinned saying “Of course I wasn’t planning on letting you go with out me.†I wrapped my own arms around his own waist smiling and merely said “Such a sweetheart.†He grinned back saying “Only to you.†I leant my head back and nuzzled him saying “I know and it makes me feel special.†“Perhaps because you are.†He whispered. I flushed and pulled away from him saying “Let’s go my love or we may never get going†“I wouldn’t mind spending the night with you in my arms.†I giggled at his double entendre pulling him along.

When we were away from the others I helped him out of his plate mail saying “I guess I’ll have to teach you the ways of The Lady of the Dance won’t I?†he sighed saying “I suppose so and I have to say I like this part already.†I grinned replying “I thought you would with your oh so subtle way of asking about it before.†“Was it that obvious?†I shook my head saying “No not really it was barely detectable.†“But you could still tell?†“Yes and it made me happy and nervous at the same time.†“Is that so?†he said smirking broadly. “It is.†I said returning his smirk. By this time we were both down to nothing but our tunics, cloaks, and boots. “Now we just need to find…†I then spun about as I heard something approach. It was a doe which baffled me I wondered what it was doing this far north. It must have sensed my intent however for before I had even touched my sword she bolted. Unsheathing my sword I ran after her. I could hear Izzdarrak behind me but I didn’t look back my eyes trained on my quarry. The doe suddenly made a sharp turn trying to throw me off. But I turned as well with perfect precision from years of hunting with my family. The doe hadn’t anticipated this she let out a squeal of fright and turned again leading itself into a dead end against the mountains. I pounced driving my blade into her soft flesh around the heart. She collapsed instantly giving a final twitch before I twisted my blade ending it. Izzdarrak ran up behind me and I turned smiling at him as I withdrew my sword. I could see his blue eyes smoldering in the moonlight. I smirked licking the edge of my blade clean. “By the hells Layla! You don’t know what that does to me!†still smirking I got up saying “I think I do and that’s precisely why I did it. We’ll get to that later though help me prepare the doe by starting a fire would you love?†he walked over and brought me into his arms kissing me passionately leaving no corner of my mouth unexplored. When he broke away I smiled widely saying “And I'm the tease.†He grinned saying nothing but went to gather some wood for a fire. I then turned and began preparing the doe for our little feast singing prayers to Eilistraee as I did so.

The fire was crackling as the venison cooked over it filling the air with its rich aroma. I was teaching Izzdarrak one of the traditional dances of Lady Silverhair one would usually perform at ceremonies or festivals. He was getting the hang of it rather quickly as I knew he would he was very nimble and light on his feet. “I like this†he said “though I don’t think I would so much with a lot of other people around.†I gave him an affectionate smile saying “I know you’re not very sociable nor am I.†“Perhaps that’s why we get along so well†I smiled saying “Perhaps.†His stomach then gave a rumble and I laughed saying “Always hungry aren’t you beloved?†he kissed me saying “Always.†he agreed. I grinned at him saying “You and your double entendres.†Then sitting down I grabbed the two spits handing him the one with more. I snuggled up next to and began to eat. Of course he finished first and after he was done he lost all interest in food and began satiating another kind of hunger he leant over and began nibbling my ear. I let out a gasp and dropped what was left of my meal forgetting it in it’s entirely. He gave a wicked grin and began to move southward kissing my jaw line, cheek, and finally my lips. When he pulled away he was licking his lips. I laughed softly saying “You look a lot like a cat who has gotten into some cream my sweet one.†He licked his lips again saying “Cream huh? I don’t know if that’s what it is I think I need another taste.†He then leant in kissing me again fully, passionately as if trying to get the full flavor of my kiss. When he pulled away he licking his lips again and thinking hard and he said “Cream maybe but there’s something else in there something sweeter honey maybe?†he grinned widely “Honeycream maybe?†I flushed a bit from some unexplainable reason. This widened his grin and he pulled me close almost purring “My honeycream†I smiled back at saying “I guess I’ll have to think up a pet name for you too Izzi.†He flushed at this saying “Doesn’t that work?†I shook my head saying “No that’s a nickname like Layla is for me.†he sighed stroking my cheek “Ok†he said “You know I really do love you.†I kissed him and said “And I you.â€

The rest of the evening was a happy blur. The next thing I knew I was snuggled up against him what must have been hours later completely exhausted. I smiled stroking his well muscled chest. He grabbed my hand and kissed it saying “That was absolutely amazing I think if I stood up I’d fall over. I feel dizzy Layla.†I smiled at him saying “I’d have to agree with you sweetheart. I feel a bit dizzy myself.†I then looked away suddenly embarrassed and said “So I did ok? It was my first time you know.†he tilted my face back toward him saying “Do have to say it again? Absolutely amazing and in a way it was first for me to.†I raised an eyebrow at him. He rested his forehead against my own saying softly “I’ve had sex before pleased many a mistress with my skills but you are the first for me to make love to as you surfacers call it.†I smiled brightly at him and said “Oh my ssinssrigg you are to good to me, for me, how did I get so lucky to be the one sent to that temple? Usstan ssinssrigg dos ji mzilt.†he stroked my cheek lightly saying “I think you have it backwards my honeycream I am lucky blessed really to have you in my life lu'Usstan ssinssrigg dos ichl.†Still smiling I looked up and mouthed wordlessly for a moment and then he said “Speechless Layla?†I flushed and finding my tongue I said “Yes you seem to leave me speechless a lot my sweet one.†“Do I now?†he smirked “Speechless or breathless?†I sighed “Right now? Both†I gave a great yawn. He chuckled saying “Sleep then beloved. Do not worry I’ll watch after you.†I smiled as I closed my eyes saying “I know. You should get some sleep too though I worry about you.†he stroked my hair whispering “I know you do goodnight my honeycream.†“Goodnight Izzi.â€

I woke to the sun shining brightly upon us. I turned my head burying it Izzdarrak’s chest. After a moment I peeked up at him he was asleep and had the most serene expression on his face. I smiled brightly at this happy that I could give him some measure of peace and happiness. I merely watched for the next couple of moments as he slept. I then reached up and pushed a stray hair out of his face and his eyes snapped open. He quickly looked around and then seeing me he smiled warmly cupping my cheek as he said “And I thought the sun was blinding it’s nothing compared to your smile†at this my smile brightened and he turned away smirking as he mockingly threw up his arms to block my bright gaze. I laughed happily and wrapped my arms tightly about him. He grinned broadly saying “I love it when you laugh especially so when I'm the one to have brought you joy.†I kissed him and replied “You are my joy.†He stroked my cheek saying “And you are mine.†I smiled warmly at him placing my hand on his. After a moment I sighed and said “I suppose we should get back to the others.†He laughed saying “What you don’t want to? We could just stay right here then or perhaps leave them behind.†I smiled saying “You have no idea how appealing that sounds but…†“But…†he repeated pulling me closer. I patted his cheek saying “But we can’t do that for more than one reason. They are useful and my parents would be very angry at me for running off with some incredibly handsome youth.†He smirked at this saying “Is that so? Well I suppose we’ll have to go back I wouldn’t want to get you into trouble.†I gave him a quick kiss and said “Such a sweetheart.†We then got up and began helping each other dress. Once we had finished Izzdarrak gave a wicked grin saying “You know I was right helping you undress is a lot more fun and rewarding then helping you dress though I still wouldn’t want anyone else performing the latter.†I grinned saying “I feel the same way beloved.†We then sat down to eat breakfast.

When we were nearing where the others had bedded down I could hear Leohorn grumbling about where we had gone. I rolled my eyes he needed to relax after all I was with Izzi so I wasn’t really in any danger. But maybe that’s who he was trying to protect me from. I smirked too late for that. When we walked into the makeshift camp all eyes turned to us when Izzdarrak dropped the carcass of the doe on to the ground. Leohorn’s eyes grew large and he shouted “Where in the nine hells have you been?!†Izzdarrak glared at him saying in a heavily sarcastic tone “I’d think that was obvious.†He gestured toward the doe. Leohorn’s eyes narrowed in hate “And it took you this long to hunt down said quarry.†Izzdarrak looked back at him with equal dislike saying “Perhaps, perhaps not but either way it’s not really any of your business.†I wrapped my arms around his waist saying nothing. Izzdarrak wrapped an arm around me as well still glaring at Leohorn. Then totally ignoring Leohorn I tugged a bit at Izzdarrak's tunic saying “You’ve got some blood on your tunic I guess I’ll have to wash it for you.†he grinned more that I was ignoring Leohorn than because of my suggestion “You don’t have to. I can do it myself.†“Perhaps†I said “But it would please me to do something for you.†“Well thank you my ssinssrigg. You’re very sweet.†He leant in and kissed me and then said licking his lips “Mmm in more ways then one.†I laughed softly saying “I could say the same love. Now let’s…†Leohorn then interrupted saying “Damn it don’t ignore me I want my questions answered!†we continued ignoring him and Wandathana said “Forget it Leohorn they’re not going to admit it so you might as well leave them be.†I flashed her an appreciative smile and continued saying to Izzdarrak “Let’s get into our armor.†Leohorn stormed off grumbling. I was in mine first of course because there was less of it and Izzi was a lot quicker with his hands then I was. Once we were both in our armor I gave a slight frown. He cupped my face in his hands saying “What is it my honeycream?†I smiled fondly at his pet name for me and said “Nothing really it’s just something silly.†“You know you always have my ear, and my lips, and my eyes, my heart,†having a feeling he would go on in this manner for sometime unless I did something. I placed a finger to his lips and said “I know my love I know. What I was thinking was well.†I felt my face growing hot. “All this plate and metal is kind of in my way.†He laughed loudly and happily. I smiled feeling my face getting even hotter. “Layla you are too good for words either in this tongue†he switched to drow continuing “or this one. And I would have to agree. I guess we’ll just have to both be patient and wait for nightfall.†I pouted saying “I know†he grinned widely saying pulling my close he said “Or not†I smiled warmly saying “No we really should get going.†I then gave him a light kiss and we began packing up.

I sat at the campfire brooding over the map we had collected from G'eldjss. It had been five days and to be honest I had no idea if we were going the right way. Suddenly the map was whipped out of my hands. I turned glaring but my gaze softened when I realized it was my beloved. He was looking down at the map and said “You know I don’t like seeing you so upset. I thought I would dispose of what was upsetting you.†I smiled at him saying “Thank you my love. But we need to figure this out. We’ve been traveling for half a ten-day now and I don’t even know if we are on the right track.†He tucked the map in his belt pouch saying “True but I'm rather enjoying the journey.†At first I was rather annoyed. This was my family after all we were trying to save. It wasn’t some vacation. I looked back to say so and he was so close our noses were almost touching and I lost my voice in the depths of his eyes. Knowing this he laughed kissing my nose and said “I know we are on a quest no need to pout my love. I was just saying I rather enjoy your company.†I sighed saying “I enjoy your company too beloved.†I then laid my head on his shoulder sighing. He kissed my hair saying “Don’t worry it… it will be all right.†I smiled saying “Thank you.†he nodded and we sat there for a moment when Izzdarrak stiffened. I looked at him quizzically and said “Izzi?†he placed a finger to his lips and got up drawing his swords. He motioned for the others to do the same and whether they liked him or not they knew he could practically sense danger and did it. I got up as well drawing my own blades. A drow woman stepped out of the shadows saying in drow “And I thought we were being quiet. Well done male.†“Who are you? What do you want?†Izzdarrak demanded “Tsk, tsk, you should reign in your male before I do it for you my dear cousin.†She said her voice dripping with sarcasm. My eyes narrowed and I said “Ardulvrae†“Correct†she replied. “If you know who I am you must know what I'm here for. Come quietly and I’ll give your companions a quick death.†“Wow thanks†I said sarcastically “But I'm going to have to pass.†“As you wish.†She motioned forward and about a dozen drow warriors stepped forth. Izzdarrak stepped closer to me. Ardulvrae then said to Izzdarrak “You appear to be quite the fighter. Why don’t you abandon your current mistress and join me and stead?†“Never!†spat Izzdarrak. She frowned saying “Such a waste oh well.†She then snapped her fingers and her warriors attacked.

There were only about a little less than half of them left though it had cost us dearly. We were all severely wounded and I really didn’t know if we could make it out of this. Izzdarrak still stood in front of me bleeding from more wounds then I could count it brought me more pain then my actual wounds to see him as such. I then stepped around him saying “I’ll come with if you just let them go.†Ardulvrae surveyed the battlefield and her own troops she had lost seven of her warriors and most of the survivors looked close falling. She nodded saying “Very well.†Izzdarrak grabbed my hand saying in drow “No! Don’t do this please! Stay with me I’ll protect you. Please don’t leave me. I love you.†I smiled. Ardulvrae looking disdainful said “Disgusting†ignoring her I said “I love you too. That’s why I have to do this I couldn’t bear seeing you die. This way you can live.†“I don’t want to live with out you.†my eyes watered and I turned away walking towards Ardulvrae. She nodded and to of her guards took me by the arms.

“No!†Izzdarrak shouted again trying to follow. Leohorn and Maronna grabbed him holding him back, which was no easy task as he struggled all his might. Looking back at Wandathana and Darthana Leohorn said “Do something!†“Like what? We’ve cast most our spells and like most drow he’s rather resistant to magic.†Izzdarrak then broke free and hit Leohorn in the face with the hilt of his sword and ran after his beloved. Maronna tackled him to the ground. He snarled trying to throw her off but she had him pinned. He looked back to where his love was disappearing and cried despondently “Laelafay!â€

Hearing his cry broke my heart and the tears I had been holding back flowed down my cheeks. I looked back at him still struggling to get away from Maronna cursing her in drow. Our eyes met for a moment and I mouthed “I love you†this only increased his struggling. “I'm tired of all this sentimentally†said Ardulvrae was the last thing I heard. I then felt a pain in the back of my head as I was knocked unconscious.

When I woke up I was in a cell striped of all my belongings even the hidden pockets in my tunic were empty. I then heard someone, a man, say in drow “Ah you’re awake.†I looked around the small cell I was in inspecting it carefully. “There’s no way out I’ve already checked.†“Who are you? Where am I?â€I replied also in drow “I am Keleth and you are in my dear mistress Ardulvrae’s lair.â€

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Chapter 9

I sighed and said “I figured as much I just hope she kept her word and left the others alone left Izzdarrak alone.†“Izzdarrak? Is he your male?†I gave a faint smile saying “I suppose you could say that. But he’s so much more than that. He’s my love, my heart, my soul†I felt tears well up in my eyes “and so much more beyond I couldn’t bear to see him killed by Ardulvrae and her servants. So I turned myself in, in exchange for her leaving him and our other companions be. He didn’t like the idea tried his best to follow but the others held him back.†I wrapped my arms around my legs rocking back and forth. I then felt something pressing into my chest. I reached into my tunic and pulled out Phyrwae’s holy symbol. “You must really have favor with The Lady of the Dance for neither Ardulvrae nor her minions could remove it. It burned them when they tried.†I gripped it tightly hoping she was looking out for my beloved as well. “I'm sure your love is fine.†I looked at him and asked “How would you know?†“Because I heard Ardulvrae complaining about leaving behind such a fine male and that Burkiira had better make it up to her.†He said almost glowering. Something suddenly hit me and I asked “Why are you in here?†“Me? I am here because I was Ardulvrae’s male but she recently discarded me and I am to be sacrificed to Lloth within the ten-day.†“I am sorry.†I said softly “If we escape you can come with me if you’d like.†He shook his head saying “Thank you for the offer but we are not going to get out of here. Ardulvrae’s victims do not escape.†“Well I'm not giving up hope. I have to get out of here and see my family again. See Izzdarrak again.†I bit my lip nervously. Keleth sighed “Look I'm sorry I didn’t mean to upset you. How about I change the subject? Tell me about the surface world. I know little about it.†I smiled not even wondering why he was being so nice to me when I knew kindness wasn’t exactly common in the Underdark. I was too distraught, too distracted by my plight. I turned to him and asked “What would you like to know?â€

Izzdarrak glared as he angrily sharpened his sword. He was furious at the others for holding him back, for stopping him going after Laelafay. His honeycream. He glared at them with intense hatred if he didn’t need their help saving her he’d kill them all. Layla wouldn’t like that nor would Eilistraee who Layla had been teaching him the ways of. But he didn’t care if he lost her there was no point in converting if she was taken away his life would return to what it had been before he met her and that was a place he never wished to return to/wouldn’t have any meaning anymore. The whetstone then slipped from his grip and he cut thumb. He cursed sucking on it. He could hear Layla giving a soft laugh and saying “You should be more careful beloved. Do you want me to kiss it?†he grimaced looking away. He then bent down and picked up the whetstone and began sharpening his other sword/resumed his sharpening. He would save her there was no other option if he lost her he would go back to the life he had before he met her and that was bleak. Wandathana came over and put a hand on his shoulder “Don’t worry we’ll get her back.†he threw her hand off and said “Get away from me human!†he turned about giving her an absolute murderous glare but there was a hint of pain in there too. He then marched off looking at the map he had taken from Layla. There were two places marked on it. one of them had to be where Burkiira was but not until Ardulvrae had shown up did he realize that the other one must be her own lair or perhaps the entrance back into the Underdark he knew there was one around here somewhere there had to be how else did they get here? The problem was he didn’t know which. Maronna was tracking them and according to her they were making good progress but he scowled thinking “What did a human know?†he then heard movement behind him. He swung around hands on his swords. It was Maronna she froze saying “I thought it would be best if we got going. You’re in much pain and Sir Leohorn always says to help those in need and also I like Lady Layla she’s a good woman.†Izzdarrak was rather startled by this after all he didn’t expect the others to want to help just to do it. Either because they feared him or felt they had to out of a sense of surfacer honor. He then said slowly “Thank you†she nodded saying “You’re welcome. You really love her don’t you?†“I do.†He replied. Maronna nodded and said “Well let’s get going.â€


“Really? Except for the blinding sunlight the surface doesn’t sound too bad.†said Keleth. I smiled saying “It’s not and you get use to the sunlight after a while. Though it still stings it’s not as bad as when I was a child.†“I see. You’ve actually given me hope Laelafay maybe we will get out of this though I strongly doubt it.†I chuckled I knew he wasn’t joking but it was still amusing some how. “Perhaps we will.†Over the next few days Keleth and I got to know each other quite well. I told him about my life on the surface, of my family, of Silverymoon, of Eilistraee, and of course of Izzdarrak. How we met fell in love etc. I knew babbled quite a bit about that particular subject and I apologized but I couldn’t help it. He didn’t seem to mind and always accepted my apologies. In turn he told me of his own life how he had been chosen by Ardulvrae a while back and that he had began to become attached to her but had realized the feeling was not mutual if she could so easily toss him away. He seemed rather broken up about it and I felt sorry for him telling him it would be alright he would find someone new, someone who appreciated him when we escaped to the surface. “I could introduce you to my sisters†I grinned. He shook his head grinning as well “Always ready to cheer me up aren’t you my lady? Thank you I'm sure they are wonderful if they are anything like you but I doubt they would be interested in someone like me.†I frowned saying “Why not?†he looked at me puzzlingly and said “What would a noble lady like you or your sisters see in a slave such as me?†I rolled my eyes saying “You’re just as bad as Izzi! He used to think the same thing. Probably still does knowing him. Look you are a wonderful man any woman would be lucky to have you and I'm sure my sisters would agree.†He looked rather stunned and I then amended myself saying “Well Phyrwae might care that you weren’t a noble but Ally wouldn’t I'm positive†He looked speechless mouthing wordlessly.

I then heard a commotion outside our door and the guard say “Who in the abyss are you?†My heart then jumped as I heard a lovingly familiar voice say “Your death.†The guard then cried out in pain and I shook the bars shouting “Izzdarrak I'm in here! In here my love!†he then bashed in the door and looked about. Are eyes and I smiled widely tears forming in my eyes I said softly “Izzi. I knew… I knew you’d come†he ran over grasping my hands through the bars he kissed them saying “Of course I did I couldn’t just leave you here. I would have gone with you but…†I put a finger to his lips saying “I know don’t worry about it we’re together now.†He looked deeply into my eyes then let go of my hands telling me to stand back. I took a step back and he smashed the lock with the hilt of his sword. The door swung open creakily and I ran to meet him. He crushed me in his arms whispering “I really missed you†I smiled saying “I missed you to my love.†He then noticed Keleth and stiffened his hold on me tightening. “It’s ok he’s a friend.†This didn’t reassure him if anything it made him more leery. I gave him a soft smile saying “Let’s get going. Where are the others?†“On their way.†I turned to Keleth and said “Come on I told you we’d get out of here.†He smiled back wanly saying “I suppose you were right after all.†We then left and met up with the others out in the hall. Darhana came up panting and said “By the gods you think you could have waited for the rest of us?†“No†replied Izzdarrak. He then turned to Keleth and asked “Where is Ardulvrae? I have to repay her.†He tightened his arm around me. Keleth responded “Follow me.†he said rather softly. “Wait†I said “let’s just go.†“What?! After what she did to you never! After all if we don’t take care of her she’ll just come after you again later and I won’t have that.†I sighed biting my lip I said “You’re right. This has to be done.†We followed Keleth though the corridors he looked well depressed like he was dreading something the confrontation with his former lover perhaps? Finally winding up at a big set of doors near what I approximated to be the center of the complex. I found it strange we hadn’t run into anyone yet. Something was not right. I had a bad feeling about it.

Keleth then opened the doors inside was a wide circular room with deep red, blood red, tapestries hanging on the walls, soft expensive looking rugs on the floor and a single chair sat at the back of it almost like a throne. Upon it sat Ardulvrae. She smiled evilly saying in drow “Welcome, Welcome to my home. Temporary home that is after I’ve dealt with you and your companions I shall be returning to the Underdark perhaps with a new male.†Her eyes narrowed on Izzdarrak and she said “I knew you would come. So much passion you have for your mistress.†I stepped in front of him saying acidly “Over my dead body you’ll take him!†she ignored me continuing “Keleth take care of them will you? But leave the male and my dear cousin alive.†Izzdarrak jumped away from Keleth pulling me with him he drew his blades snarling at the other man. But Keleth did not draw his swords. He did not even look at up he just stood there for a moment and then said softly “Izzdarrak she has an opening in her defenses. Her left hip is usually weakly guarded don’t be taken in by her faked opening on her right.†Ardulvrae looked livid and shouted “Why you little piece of…†but the rest of her sentence was cut off as Keleth silenced her with a spell. “Go now and then we must escape.†Izzdarrak didn’t need telling twice. He attacked Ardulvrae parried his blows the first few strikes but she was no fighter she relied on stealth, deception, poison, and her slaves to kill her opponents and Izzdarrak knowing her weakness didn’t not help matters at all. Still she put up an impressive fight she was not the top assassin in house Auvryafin for nothing. She broke though his defenses once gouging him in the shoulder. This left her open though and Izzdarrak stabbed her though the heart. She then fell silently to floor. I then ran over to him and held a healing potion to his lips saying “My poor Izzi†he smirked drinking down the potion. Keleth then said “Follow me we must get out of here before…†we then heard footsteps in the hall. Keleth swore under his breath. He then turned and went out the door. There was a hushed conversation and then the sound of retreating footsteps. Keleth then re-entered the room saying “Quickly now before they or others return.â€

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